The Daily Gamecock

CLEP exams useful tool for graduating on time

USC’s academic advisors need to highlight program’s benefits

Do you know what the CLEP is? If you’re rushing to the nearest medical manual for the full information on a certain condition resulting from indiscriminate sexual behavior then you’re not at fault, our beloved university is.

CLEP, also known as the College Level Examination Program, is run by nonprofit organization CollegeBoard and is roughly the college equivalent of the Advanced Placement (AP) program. It allows students to receive college credit for the information they already know, allowing them to avoid unnecessary prerequisites or core curriculum stuffing and to jump right into their major/specialty.

There are 22 classes, ranging from ACCT 225 to EDPY 335, that CLEP can offer students credit for.
Right now, you’re spending $1302 (in-state tuition rate) and 36 hours (semester total) of your time for the same type of class you took as a sophomore in high school. Try 90 minutes and $135 ($80/CLEP test, $35/testing center). You do the math.

Unfortunately, few academic advisors mention this as a possible option for underclassmen and most students stumble through large TA-led classes that have little to do with their future career in their first two years of college. Sadly, a lot of this “stumbling” occurs far beyond the initial two years; according to the US News and World Report, the USC 4-year graduation rate is an abysmal 53 percent.

While there are many factors leading to delayed graduation, making the undergraduate education process more flexible is critical to ensuring student success and is the core focus of President Pastides’ latest growth and reform efforts, such as the Palmetto College and the summer semester at USC.

So if USC is trying to make school more affordable and get students to graduate within four years, why is it that hardly anyone at our institution of higher education really knows what the CLEP is? Perhaps this has a little to do with the realities of cold, hard cash. Or rather, the large sums of tuition fees that are no longer being funneled into the coffers of the Bursar’s office.

For each student that chooses to take a CLEP exam, that means less tuition money going into supporting the university system, with all of its services and bureaucracy. In fact, students can no longer even take CLEP exams at USC — there has been no “official CLEP administrator” at the Office of Orientation and Testing Services for the last YEAR AND A HALF. While this is not brought up as an easy alternative by officials, students can still take the exams at neighboring Allen University, just a few blocks down the road from USC.

With more and more freshmen brought in every year into an educational system that struggles to efficiently offer knowledge tailored to the needs of all students, we need to push our university to embrace, rather than sideline, existing options such as CLEP exams. Not only can they save significant amounts of time and money for students, but they could also raise our four-year graduation rate and, ultimately, our national ranking.


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