Beginning this fall, all freshmen on Bright Futures scholarships must make five attempts to accelerate graduation, according to a new mandatory state law. The purpose of the law is to cut the overall cost of education to the state of Florida and the taxpayers.
Students can fulfill the requirement by earning college credit with additional courses in International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement or Dual Enrollment programs or by passing the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).
D. Thomas Porter, director for computer based testing at the Office of Evaluation and Testing, said the testing option could benefit students because it could reduce the cost of a college education and accelerate graduation. However, he warns that some students should be careful in deciding if CLEP testing is for them.
“The CLEP test can incur a student’s educational cost,” Porter said. “I do not conclude taking the test is the same as taking the course.”
Porter said taking the test instead of the classes alters the quality of the academics. But he said it could enhance the quality of an educational program by allowing for a more advanced focus on other educational activities like studying abroad.
Porter said students should take the CLEP test before registering for classes. He said an estimated 800 to 900 students have already taken the CLEP test out of the 2,915 students who are required to take it. In addition to earning more credit hours, students can use nine or more credit hours met with the Bright Futures requirement in place of the summer hours requirement.
Porter said students should start the process by seeing an adviser who will recommend the best classes to test out of for their degree program. He said students should choose which classes to test out of carefully because of the effect the results might have on their education.
For example, Porter said, a student not going to medical school might want to test out of a chemistry class because the lab skills are not as pertinent to their career.
Because the CLEP test is essentially credit in the bank, Porter said students can use their time to pursue other avenues.
“(The CLEP test) gives students more flexibility for students to take risks,” Porter said.
Freshman Rickivah Morgan found out about the program through Bright Futures and said she hopes to test out of more classes.
“I think it’s a good thing because I never would have known that just by taking the test you could receive credit,” Morgan said. “I would have taken the classes instead.”
Morgan said she prefers paying for the testing fee rather than for the full amount of tuition and books.
Students can get more information online at www.usf.edu/ugrads/usfbrightfutures.