College: Making Freshman year (almost) free …

Let more students earn AP credits by putting “boilerplate” courses online and beefing-up certification testing.


A article posted on Real Clear Politics caught my eye.

The author Steven Klinsky, is credentialed as a businessman and education reformer, chairman of Harvard’s Public Education Policy Group and founder of the Modern States Education Alliance (MSEA).

He observes that (1) traditional brick & mortar colleges are increasingly unaffordable, (2) that “the tuition cost for many online courses has been set every bit as high (or sometimes higher!) than for the same course delivered in the physical classroom” and (3) that increasingly popular MOOCs can deliver quality content but no college credits—just “certificates of completion”.

So, as a private citizen and philanthropist, Mr. Klinsky has been trying to “square the circle” with MSEA’s “Freshman Year for Free” program.


How does Klinsky and MSEA plan to do it?


Klinsky connected a few dots to frame a simple, high impact idea:

There is one education idea that is both exceptionally simple to implement and exceptionally valuable.

Namely, create a national digital public library of tuition-free online college courses, available to everyone.

These courses — from top quality professors, with free online textbooks and credit-granting certifying exams — would make college much more affordable, at very little taxpayer cost and in an easily achievable way.

Obviously, the key to the program are the “credit-granting certifying exams”.

But, how to develop certifying exams that universities would accept to actually grant credits?


Here’s the good news: for the most part, they already exist. 

The tests are already offered by the College Board (the SAT organization) … they’re called AP exams(Advanced Placement) and CLEPs (College Level Exam Program).

There are currently 38 AP Exams offered in 7 subject areas:

  • AP Capstone (e.g. AP Research)
  • Arts (e.g. Art History, Music Theory)
  • English ( English Language, Literature & Composition)
  • History & Social Science (e.g. Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Psychology)
  • Math & Computer Science (e.g. Calculus, Statistics, Computer Science)
  • Sciences (e.g. Biology, Chemistry, Physics: Algebra-Based)
  • World Languages & Cultures (Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish)


There are currently 33 CLEPs offered in  5 subject areas:

  • Composition and Literature (e.g. Analyzing and Interpreting Literature, College Composition)
  • World Languages (French, German, Spanish)
  • History and Social Sciences (e.g. Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Psychology)
  • Science & Math (e.g. College Math, College Algebra, Calculus)
  • Business (e.g. Financial Accounting, Principles of Marketing)


Here’s the clever twist.

These days, for the most part, APs and CLEPs are used by fast-track high school students … think: upper-class students attending college preparatory high schools (either private ones or the best public schools).

These students typically use the AP credits to avoid repeating courses they’ve already taken and open up their schedules for more advanced courses

Klinsky’s idea is is to prepare a broader population of students to pass some of the APs & CLEPs … and use the credits to finish college quicker … in less than 4 years.

Many of the AP-CLEP subjects are either already available online – or natural for online delivery.

Klinsky’s MSEA plans to become a hub that connects students to low-cost (or free) online courses that directly prepare students for the credit-certified AP-CLEP exams.

So, all students can get a head-start on their college educations, shorten their stays in college and save a lot of money.

Wish I’d thought of that …


Source article: How To Make College Free <= worth reading for context



Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s