Creative Back Doors into College
Those of us with older internationally-adopted children are often highly-educated. We sort of expect our kids to follow in those footsteps. Nothing wrong with working in a fast-food place or on a lawn-mowing crew, it’s just that we never imagined that to be their future.
I receive tons of e-mails asking, “Is it possible to even dream of college for them?” This is when their English is substandard, they need extra time to take tests, and there’s no way they’ll make a decent showing on any SAT or ACT.
Here are a few ideas for parents with internationally-adopted teens who will soon be facing college and need some creative tips. Hopefully, one or two may give some food for thought.
1. You don’t need to be officially admitted to college in order to attend college. Have your student take one, two, or three courses for credit. They can slowly build up a portfolio of successfully-passed courses. Have them go year-round and it will not take them long to amass enough credits to either formally apply, or formally graduate. Even taking two classes at a time would only take them six-and-a-half years to complete college.
2. Start at a junior or community college. Some of these are automatic feeder schools for state schools—in other words, they will not turn you away when you’ve finished two years of study. Still, some of the community colleges have become more competitive in recent days and you need to make sure that all of your credits will transfer.
3. Take some CLEP exams. Granted, if your student has this kind of brain power, they might not need my help getting into university. These are standardized exams for which you may study, pass the test, and earn credits. You can study online with certain prep services, buy prep books for specific exams, or have your student basically skim and memorize college textbooks. Good luck with that.
But when it works, you can basically earn 3-6 credits for about $100 a pop—big difference in time and cost. Think of taking 12 exams a year, similar to 6 courses for both the fall and spring semesters. At an average of $250 – $750 per credit hour at many schools, you could easily spend $9,000 – $27,000 instead of $1,200 for 36 credits, plus no dorms or cafeteria food. And schools that accept CLEP exams (whether a few exams for basic education courses, or many exams to transfer in with the bulk of your college courses completed—not always easy to find these colleges) will look favorably upon your application, since, in a way, you have already proved yourself capable of college-level studies.
4. Take remedial classes at a community college, where about 75% of admitted students need extra prep work in English or math. You do not receive college credit for this work, and many of these students never graduate. The current stats are that only half of first-time college students graduate in 6 years, whether they need remedial work or not, so it may be worth improving yourself whether you continue on to be graduated or not.
5. Keep in mind that schools exist to make money, not to graduate students. They want your business. Anything they can do to keep you coming back for more classes is in their best interests. Use this to your advantage to approach them again regarding admissions. Just make sure you’re earning bonafide credit when they finally let you in.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Usually. Sometimes. Hopefully. So go for it. Knock, and keep on knocking.
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