I founded Credits Before College LLC on the belief that college debt closes doors and limits opportunities. Students are simply unaware of the impact their student loans will have on their future until that first bill arrives. By then, it is too late.
What started as question of how to help my own children graduate debt-free, resulted in over two years of laborious research. What I learned was how to “unbundle” the current education package we call high school and college and connect the dots differently. I learned how to apply highly affordable options during a student’s middle and high school years, what traditional approaches did not garner results, and how to include real-world educational experiences. Every student and parent should have access to this information. It isn’t just about college, it’s about helping families be strong. Finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship. And while many students have been called to serve in positions of ministry, or want to pursue interests other than full-time work after graduation, these opportunities are delayed or never fulfilled because student loan debt rules their futures. I hope to inform parents of alternatives and share a vision where students can pursue their God-given talents and calling.
Our family resides in Ramsey, MN. Besides homeschooling my own children, I taught for several years at local homeschool co-ops. During this time, I was an independent administrator of the Peabody Academic Achievement Test, providing testing and consulting services to families. Since the founding of Credits Before College in 2006, I have been presenting local workshops, speaking at state homeschool conventions, writing, and offering personal consultations. I am dedicated to seeing families and students become positioned, purposeful, and equipped to lead and serve. I enjoy what I do!
Founder and Owner
Credits Before College LLC
Our Family’s Story
I heard a radio ad while in the car. Mission Aviation Fellowship was seeking teachers to serve one year in various US-accredited schools overseas. Fast forward and one year later. We found ourselves serving in Papua, Indonesia where my public-school-teacher-husband taught high school math at an International school for missionary kids. Our three kids (at the time, elementary age) attended that school, and I volunteered at the school and in the community, and learned how to live and love a people whose language I did not speak.
Returning to the U.S. and re-establishing our homeschool routines took on a new meaning. I learned that to serve as a missionary, student-loan debt has to be paid first. We wanted to give our kids the opportunity to answer God’s calling on their lives, whatever that might be. Realizing the financial challenge we would have as a single-income family to help our three kids attend college and graduate debt-free, I took up the challenge.
I determined credit-by-exam was the best means to accomplish our goals. There is no guarantee with scholarships or financial aid, so we decided not to wait and hope for those. Instead, I introduced CLEP and DSST into our school routine when my two oldest were in 8th and 7th grade. Feeling our way as we went along, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, our plan was simple: add a CLEP or DSST as a final exam to every subject they were already studying as part of their middle and high school education. They also transitioned to full-time college in 11th and 12th grades, taking advantage of Minnesota’s dual enrollment program (PSEO) where qualified students can take college courses and the state pays the bill.
Our oldest son earned oodles of credit with CLEP/DSST. It became a game for him. He also took advantage of PSEO in grades 11-12. He earned a 2-year AS degree in Business, a BA in History, and graduated high school at the same time. Unusual? Certainly. Possible? Absolutely! Unbundle the current education package we call high school and college and connect the dots differently.
Update: His education was rooted in experiences, not just books. During high school he held several unpaid internships, paid positions, and worked a steady part-time job. At 21, he completed his Master’s degree in International Relations (paying as he went along) and then headed to Washington, DC where he secured an unpaid internship. That led into a full-time position on Capitol Hill. After two years, he has returned home to attend law school (on a full scholarship) starting fall 2016. That’s the short version. The long version requires a cup of coffee.
Our daughter earned her degrees (AS in Business, BA in Psychology) in much the same way and time frame, and for a similar price: $6,000. Her high school years were also rooted in experiences – sports, volunteering, and planning events. Experiences and skill building is what positioned all our kids to take advantage of their education. After graduating, she expanded her skills and became certified as a Personal Trainer, working full-time, building her savings account, wondering what was next. Her adventure looks differently than a lot of American students. At 21, she left for what was to be a year-long work/travel experience in New Zealand.
Update: The idea of working and traveling has suited our daughter well. Her travel blog shares her upcoming ventures.
Our youngest son graduated high school in 2014 with a 2-year degree plus almost a third year of credits. His pathway was different because he needed more on-campus lab science courses. He finished his degree in Health Sciences at age 20, total cost $14K. This is allowing him to move toward his graduate program (DPT) without carrying debt. Completing his last year of school online also made him portable! A definite advantage for a kid that is built for outdoor adventure. I am not sure which will trump: graduate school or ministry/travel/adventure. But he is very thankful that he is positioned to take advantage of either.
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints …