Finding college credits outside of college is frustrating. Colleges exploit you: many colleges are not transparent about what credits they accept—and the system, as a whole, is broken. Things you already know, you can test out of. Be the autodidact who saves a boatload of money by gaining credits at a fraction of the price.
CLEP stands for the College-Level Examination Program. The CLEP website states that there are 34 different intro-level tests. It also states that 2,900 universities accept this form of credit. It’s a great way to get your simple classes out of the way. You need to study very hard for these tests because you can only take them once every three months. If you don’t pass it, it’s not the end of the world.
If you’ve already gained credit for calculus, you won’t be able to gain credit for an elementary maths, for example. You need to use some strategy concerning this. Do you know the material well enough? Do you plan on eliminating every easy class before hitting your first semester?
Advanced Placement (AP) Exams
You’re really a victim to your circumstances in terms of what classes can be offered to you while you’re attending high school. While not commonly known, you can take an AP test without having taken the AP class itself. This begs the question, how am I supposed to learn all of this crap?
Depending on your AP test score, a college or university may accept it as credit. Different colleges have different standards. Some are snootier than others. Some are so snooty that they may not even accept AP exams at all, regardless of how much of a smartypants you are.
DSST stands for DANTES Subject Standardized Tests. These are exams that were initially made for people in the military who wanted to transition into college. Civilians can take these exams now.
There are over 30 different subjects that you can choose from. This test requires a three month waiting period to retake it.
Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment
Your high school pairs with a college (nearby) to let you take classes. You’ll normally take a late-day or night class. If you decide that college isn’t for you—and you have one of these college classes under your belt—you can forever put on your job applications, “some college.”
This is one of the best ways to transition into college (if you’re lucky enough to have this at your high school). When credits transfer from another college, they usually transfer as a pass/fail grade that doesn’t affect your new GPA.
International Baccalaureate Programme
This is a (rare) option until you hit the age of 19. This option offers a Diploma Programme, among others. This is an international program, so different countries have different requirements and guidelines (let alone the universities’ requirements within that country). A list of the United States universities that accept IB credit can be found here.
Two-Year to Four-Year Transfer
This technically fits the theme. If you plan on going to a baccalaureate program and start out at a community college, then you’re taking credits before stepping foot onto your upcoming university’s campus. This is a little trickier.
You need to be absolutely sure that your community college’s credits will xfer to your university. Talk to a lot of people before you go this route. Many universities won’t even accept credits from other universities, let alone community colleges.
We obviously live in a very weird system. This is due to the fact that there are many different accreditation agencies. Some agencies are national, some regional, some program-specific.
The other reason: colleges and universities make less money by accepting transfer credits. They are money-hungry organizations that will stop at nothing to inflate prices and misspend funds. Elite colleges also can’t claim elitism if they accept peasant-credits.