Homeschoolers frequently want to know if they will get “credit” for their studies. Requirements for homeschooling K-12 students vary by state, but usually, it is up to parents to document and create a student’s transcript, and ultimately a diploma. A diploma simply indicates a student has completed a particular course of study.
It’s recommended that homeschoolers follow their state guidelines for what they teach and the hours it takes to complete courses. However, the very practice of homeschooling leads to the outcome that a homeschooled student hasn’t earned official credits from an accredited institution. Some families homeschool with help from a school or organization that might provide various types of support, including consultation, instruction, and even a diploma. In those situations, obtaining “credit” or a diploma will depend on the partner and the partner’s accreditation.
Who Awards Credit?
Only a school can award credits. This is true for both elementary and secondary schools, as well as colleges. Schools usually get their authority to award credit by being accredited institutions. There are a variety of different agencies that bestow accreditation to schools, and they are not considered equal. A college with lesser or no accreditation may award credits and diplomas, but they may not be recognized by employers or other academic institutions.
Thinkwell is not a school, and therefore, we do not award credit, just like a textbook publisher can’t award high school or college “credit” for reading their textbook. To pursue credit for a course, you'll need to partner with a school. Most middle schools and high schools are willing to review and award credit for Thinkwell courses.
Ways To Get College Credit
Colleges decide whether or not to recognize or award credit from any course outside their institution. Other colleges are not obliged to accept or recognize credits from other colleges should a student transfer. Each college has its policies regarding credit. There are six potential paths to college credit:
1. Successful completion of a college-level course where the college awards credit. Not all courses offered at a college are necessarily credit courses; for example, Intermediate Algebra is not a credit course at a four-year college.
2. A college may elect to award credit for a course dependent on the results of a student’s AP exam®. The exam score required varies among colleges.
3. Likewise, a college may award credit dependent on the results of a CLEP (College Level Examination Program) exam®.
4. A college may award credit depending on the results of completing an ACE (American Council of Education) certified course.
5. A high school may offer a “dual enrollment” class where they have partnered with a college to provide college credit for the course.
6. A college may award credit towards a specific degree for “professional or life experience,” however, this is unlikely for incoming undergraduates.
College Credit With AP® (Advanced Placement®) Courses
The same is true regarding credit for Thinkwell’s courses named “compatible with AP®.” The College Board states at their website: “The AP Course Audit process is designed to review AP courses in their entirety, so only schools (whether brick-and-mortar or virtual) can submit course syllabi for review.”1 We, along with the College Board®, strive to make this distinction, which is why you see this statement on our website: AP® is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in its production. This course is designed for self-study preparation for the AP® exam and has not been audited by the College Board.
There are two common reasons to take an AP® course: for the “AP®” designation on a transcript, or to prepare for an AP® exam. It’s up to the homeschooling parent to decide on the relative value of listing a course as “honors” or “AP®” for your record-keeping or transcript. In terms of preparing for an AP® exam, Thinkwell is an excellent resource. For example, perhaps the most respected online provider of approved AP®courses is Johns Hopkins Center For Talented Youth; Thinkwell videos are the basis for those courses.
College Credit With CLEP Exams
The College Level Examination Program® is similar to the AP program, but it is more flexible. Students can take CLEP exams around the year, but AP exams are offered only one time per year. It is up to the college to grant credit depending on their policies and the student’s results on the CLEP exam. Most, but not all, colleges recognize the CLEP path to credit. The CLEP program is an excellent way to decrease the time and cost of college. These Thinkwell courses are excellent preparation for the CLEP exam:
Upon request, Thinkwell will provide the results of your student’s homework exercises and exams for your transcript. A certificate of completion is also available upon request.
The American Council on Education is a nonprofit organization devoted to issues and programs relating to higher education. About 1,700 colleges participate as members. The organization encourages colleges to award credit for any college course with ACE certification. While the decision to award credit is up to the college, ACE-certified courses are generally accepted.
Thinkwell Course Grades
Thinkwell tracks all student results on exercises and assessments. These results are available upon request. They represent an objective history of the student’s activity, and we do not assign a letter grade to the results, or indicate a “pass” or “fail” status. These course grades, along with a certificate of completion, are helpful in building a homeschooler's transcript.
We’re Here To Help
It’s the responsibility of the parent to meet the guidelines or laws of your state in homeschooling your children. It will be your decision as a parent on how you may choose to represent your student’s experience with Thinkwell courses. We’re pleased to do our part in the success of your student and let us know if we can help at firstname.lastname@example.org.