CLEP: A worthy deal to replace General Studies

Lirona Joshi

Staff Writer

With the average cost of attending college rising, education today has become not only about academics but also about economics. Forbes cites that student loan debt is a $1.5 trillion crisis as of February 2019, with the average yearly cost of attending public college capping at $9,716. At a time when college education has become a race to finish courses before the courses finish your money, the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) examinations become a wallet friendly option to academic accreditation. 

The CLEP, a standardized test offered by the College Board, covers college requirements for entry-level courses. Troy University accepts CLEP tests on over 36 subject areas as a substitute to the university course credits relevant to the subjects. The subject areas covered usually are a part of the general area requirement that is pushed onto every undergraduate student regardless of their major field of study.

Since general area requirements encompass subjects from numerous fields, credits earned in those courses may or may not be necessarily relevant to one’s specialization. This then brings forth the age-old argument of why, let’s say, a student majoring in mathematics is required to take a class on arts or literature if they are neither interested nor will directly make use of it in the future? A common argument made in favor of this draws inspiration from the benefits of liberal education. 

But when being a quasi-Jack-of-all-trades is juxtaposed with financial and time constrain faced by the students, there is a need for a more efficient way out. And for many, the CLEP is the answer.

“They are economic and convenient,” said Alex Mote, a senior chemistry major from Prattville. “That way you don’t have to sit there and take 20hrs of general study.”

Students pay a $89 fee per subject and another $15 exam center fee and sit for an exam that is 90-120 minutes exam. And if they are able to attain the minimum required score set by the university, they earn credit for a course. The alternative is spending roughly $1,000 and a whole 16-week semester to earn the same credits ($2,000 for out-of-state).

The flexibility offered by CLEP exams makes it a viable option for people not enrolled in college to rack up credits that can be of use when they eventually enroll to earn a degree. This is especially beneficial for active duty military personnel or individuals working full time and are trying to earn a college degree.

According to Chanukah Anderson, coordinator of the Testing and Assessment Center at Eldridge Hall, CLEP has become a lucrative option for students as there is no grade associated with the exam itself. CLEP cannot raise or lower a student’s GPA; it simply awards credit for the course without the student physically sitting in the classroom.

Furthermore, CLEP offers an opportunity for students to actually take more courses pertaining to their major field. Students can use it as a way to earn college credits faster and graduate earlier. For students like myself majoring in two different field, CLEP becomes a holy grail to completing multiple degrees while obliging the time and the scholarship constrains.

Yes, “CLEP-ing” a subject may deprive a student the in-depth knowledge of a subject a traditional class would have offered. But weighing in the financial and time factors, it just seems like a more efficient alternative.

And then again, trying to earn accreditation for a subject with a semester worth of topics covering questions within 120 mins does require some serious amount of study which the student would have otherwise done only at the end of the semester anyway.

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