#18 How to Get Freshman Year Free Transcript



We have saved high school students and older college students and adult learners and folks who went to college and came back, whatever we’ve saved them so far in between 75 million and $100 million in college tuition. And given the high cost of college today, the chance to save this amount of money is good.


I mean, we, we consider ourselves also an on-ramp. For high school students. So we’re not trying to replace college. We’re not trying to replace the experience or the social experience that you get from college. What we’re trying to do is offer. For you to save time and just say a considerable amount of money just because college has become so, so, so expensive Pulitzer prize winner.


David BICE is on a new mission to make college more accessible and affordable for all through his work as executive director at modern states educational. You likely are already aware of advanced placement courses and exams, as well as dual enrollment courses, as options for earning college credit while still in high school.


David introduces us to a free route of high quality courses taught by instructors from colleges like Tufts wisely, Rutgers in more that aligned to the college boards, CLEP exam, which are only 90 minutes in the. All multiple choice. And as David describes much easier than the college board’s AP exams, he hopes to make freshman year free for all.


And today he’s going to share with us how hello. I’m Lisa marker Robbins, and I want to welcome you to college and career clarity, a flourish coaching program. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation.


it is my pleasure to welcome David vice, the executive director of modern states education Alliance to the podcast. David, I am so excited to have you on, as we talk about opening the doors to college, making it more affordable and getting these kids in and out. So welcome to college and career clear.


Thank you, Lisa. It’s great to be here. So David, you’ve got a lot to teach us and the benefits to both parents and students are great. So tell us a little bit about modern states, what it is and why you started monitoring. You bet. Modern states is a charity. We’re a philanthropy and our goals are to make college more affordable and more accessible for everyone.


Steve  is the founder of modern states and the primary funder of the program. And I work closely with him. I’m the executive director and run the program. Day-to-day. And we really created modern states because the college tuition has gone so high out of reach for so many people. $1.6 trillion in student debt.


And so many instances where students cannot even intend their own home state university without taking on enormous amounts of debt. So we came up with a way for students to save up to 25% of the cost of college and we call it, we call it freshman year for free. And by the way, modern states is a very bad name that nobody remembers people.


Remember the tagline freshman year for. Yeah. And basically what we did, we went out and hired 30 college professors from some terrific schools around the country, American university, George Washington university, Johns Hopkins university, Columbia university, Tufts, the SUNY schools, Rutgers. And the most important thing about these professors is that each of their courses helps to prepare students while they’re in high school to take an exam.


And if they pass that exam, students can earn free college credit. That’s good at more than 2,900 colleges and universities. So this is real college credit and it’s all free. So the courses I just described. Got a modern states.org. That’s where you sign up notes for sure. So you go to modern states, org, and you sign up and you click on view all courses.


It looks like Netflix only instead of movies, you get courses. And instead of trailers, you get an introduction from the professor about the course. You can see if you like the professor or don’t like the professor, but in any event, just starting first at a high level, we have had students. Do as few as one course.


And that by itself can save you a couple thousand dollars. We’ve had students who’ve done their entire freshman year for free while they’re in high school. We’ve had students start the program to earn and get their, get high school credit and college credit for some of the courses. At the same time, we’ve also had students continue to use the program after high school while they’re in college.


And most public colleges and universities will accept the exam. I’m going to explain to you in a minute for credit. And so that’s an important, important distinction and point, but in any event, so we hired all these professors and we only wanted professors who would be engaging in the online media. This is not high school teacher is thrown on to zoom and doesn’t know how to teach online.


This is high production, quality, high production value, and really made for online. And so we have courses they’re free. As I said, the textbooks are free. You can print out an entire transcript of these courses for free. You can watch the courses at regular speed, double speed, or one half speed, depending on what fits your learning style.


Best every six minutes in the course, we have. Multiple choice questions. If you get them right, you keep going. If you don’t rewind and try them again, it gives you a date in case you were daydreaming or didn’t get it. So you, it sounds like you’ve made it about as user-friendly and easily accessible as you possibly could.


People here, all these things for free, and then. And we will also pay the fee for you for the exam that you have to take to get college credit. And they say, what’s the catch. It sounds too good to be true. And I tell them that the catch is the students have to do the work. And so if you’re in high school, imagine having the opportunity to take virtually every, any, or every freshman level course.


College level course you can. And then you take an exam that you’re prepared for. And this, by the way, this is in science and math and English, Spanish language, psychology, sociology, you name it. And the exam is offered by the college board is called CLEP C L E. Nobody’s ever heard of it because it’s college board has done a great job of keeping it in a closet with the lights off and the door locked, even though it’s been around for 50 years.


Is that because they want everybody to funnel into their AP program, do you think, or. I still haven’t found a good answer as to why, because they’re really quite different exams. So the AP exam and this CLEP exam that would go at the end of a modern states course are very different animals. They are. Do you have a lot of kids that are doing AP and they’re doing clap?


Yes. Students can take AP exams on one day, a year in may CLEP exams. You can take any day of the year. What we’re beginning to find is that when you, when you take a club exam in may, you don’t find it out for a couple of months, how you did, so you don’t know if you got a two or you got a four or five and you have college credit.


So as an insurance policy, right after taking the AP exam high school, students will take a modern states course in the same subject. And then take the CLEP exam. And that way, if you don’t get credit on the AP, you’ve gotten credit for clap. And so it gives you an opportunity by the way, the CLEP exams are easier than the AP exams.


The CLEP exams are fact-based. Whereas the AP exams are much more analytical, I would say. And clipped stands for CLA P stands for college level examination program. The fee for these exams is $89. And once the student has finished a course, they post something on our website. We get a message. They fast, they finished and we send them a voucher they can use to pay for the course.


And I have to tell you, students and parents of high school students love this program because it’s, it’s a way. To save up to 25% of the cost of college. And it’s also a way, importantly, very importantly, for students to gain the confidence that they can do college level work and compete. A lot of students don’t have the confidence, they can do college.


And when, when someone comes and takes this one of our 33 free college courses and then passes one of these exams, Courses are taught by a college professor. You’re taking an exam. That’s testing your knowledge at a college level. You pass that. Not only have you saved money for college, you have also gained confidence that you can do it.


And that college is something it’s something important, of course. But even more than that, That you have your self-confidence goes up. It’s it’s that simple. And I didn’t even think about that when we created this. Wasn’t the intent. It makes me think about my focus is college major and career clarity, because again, we should begin with the end in mind.


We’re going to go to college for hopefully only four years. I know your intent in mind as four or fewer years for that undergraduate degree, which is not the reality for most kids with only 41% getting a degree within four years. But when I first became aware of modern states, before I invited you to come onto the podcast, my light bulb moment was.


Wow. Not only access and affordability, which is a double win, but inside my college major and career clarity course, I really talk about curating experiences to figure out what that first step into the career is and what that college major is that relates to it. So. A light bulb went off for me and I thought, oh, I’ve got to tell people about this because I think it can further the work that I have a lot of passion around, which is now how you’re wired, know what your, what your values are, and then find the careers that align with it.


And I thought what I teach a module for curating experiences. I’ve always taught about, and I didn’t realize this before you educated me before we have Dawn. I’ve always taught about using those massive online open enrollment courses to gain some exposure. But you said, yes, Lisa, keep in mind, they’re not going to get college credit for that.


And I thought I got to go back and probably edit some of my teaching in module four to introduce this idea of club. Yeah. I mean, what, what makes modern states different is that we, we are the leading credit for free college credit for free program in the country. There’s nothing else like it. And there’s nothing else like the quality of these courses where students get everything, they need to pass a CLEP exam and they learn even.


I have a question about CLEP exams that I don’t know. So teach me something on the CLEP exam. So AP exams, we’re getting that, like you said, we take the exam, then we’re waiting until mid-July. Did I get a 2, 3, 4, 5? Is this enough to earn me college credit, which is going to vary greatly from university to university is clap.


Just pass fail. Is it also. I don’t know, clip clip course. Well, first of all, clip exams are completely multiple clipped exams, take 90 minutes. And it’s really typically on a scale of 70. If students score 50 or higher on a scale of 70, then they will be awarded credit by just about every public college and university and community college in the country.


So it differs from AP in that way. The other thing is these courses are available 24 hours. For what people use a fancy term for, which is they’re asynchronous, which means people effectively can use them anytime day or night. The other thing is that students and particularly high school students, all of them have cell phones.


I mean, they, they, there were certain essential things to have in generations before now everyone has a cell phone and the good news is you can take a modern states course on a cell phone. And if you have any, if you have a connection to the internet, From your cell phone, you can take the course. If, if you don’t have internet connection, that’s solid at home.


You go somewhere, maybe it’s your school or a library or a Starbucks. You go somewhere where you do have an internet connection using our app. You can actually watch the courses offline. So that way, if you don’t have it at home, you still got a way to take the courses. We have got people this’ll sound crazy for your listeners.


We’ve got people who are on submarines, who downloaded our courses before they left and are taking them while they’re underwater, because these people are in the submarines, bored out of their minds for many, many months at a time. So course are being. Particularly high school students. I mean, there, it keeps them on a college track.


It gets them thinking about college early because they can take CLEP exams at any point in grades nine through 12. So if they take biology in the ninth grade, rather than waiting until their junior or senior, it makes sense for them to take a modern states course, which takes 20 to 25 hours typically.


Some people do it in last take that course while you’re doing biology or after you’re doing biology and you take that biology course and you pass a CLEP exam and lo and behold you pass it. And there you go. You’ve banked college credit, right from the start in ninth grade. So ninth grade, not too early to be thinking about it.


So even if they’re in, let’s say a college prep or an honors bio, not necessarily AP bio, do you feel like that’s a strong enough foundation to then go ahead and layer in the Potter state file? Absolutely. You take a regular bicycle. There are no prerequisites required for someone to sign up on modern state.


There are no prerequisites required to take a course and dive in some people sample a few courses. Some people do 10 courses. But to your question, which is a good one, yes. You could take a modern states biology course, and then that CLEP exam, if you’re taking biology in ninth grade, but let’s say you’re not taking biology, right.


You can still take modern states course in biology and then go and pass the CLEP exam. I mean, the pass rate for those using modern states courses is 78% on the CLEP exams and the national pass. It’s about 64%. So this is considerably higher. And we’ve got a program in New York city called NYC freshman year for free 2000 plus New York city high school kids.


And they’re operating with at a pass rate of 92%. Unbelievable. That’s amazing. And these are, these are high school kids who are on free and reduced lunch from under-resourced communities. That particular program has mentoring and tutoring along with it. And I think that along with some other incentives for the students make it make a difference.


But I got to believe the parents who are listening might like the idea here that while they’re in high school, your kids can earn college credit for free. Take it with them. They’ll learn from great professors. They’ll have free college credit, and I’m not sure what there is not to like about this and any particular reason, not for them not to want to try it.


You know, I’m also thinking, thinking back to when my own kids were in high school. If I were doing this concurrently with a course that I’m taking in high school. So we’re taking the, let’s just stick with bio since we started there. So we’re taking that high school CP bio honors bio. We’re doing the modern states course at the same time.


As you said, it’s going to take maybe 25 30 hours for doing it concurrently through that school year. The students are going to perform better on their high school semester and end of year exams as well. It’s like, it’s almost like free built in tutoring in that subject area. That’s going to probably increase the GPA as an ancillary effect here.


So increase the GPA. Better on the semester exams. And that’s only going to help open doors to colleges as well. It’s reinforcing what they’re already learning. You’re absolutely right. And we find that students do best on the exams if they take them within three to five days after finishing a modern states course, rather than letting weeks or weeks and weeks or.


Yeah. Well, it’s just like when you’re prepping for an act or sat exam, we always tell kids, have your prep aligned with ending right before the test, because kids are learning a lot. There’s only so much they can get in there at a time and it can be easy to forget it. You want the material to be free? One thing I didn’t mention earlier is that since we launched in the fall of 2017, modern states has had more than 300,000 people of all ages sign up to use our program.


And we have saved high school students and older college students and adult learners and folks who went to college and came back, whatever we’ve saved them so far between seventy-five million and $100 million in college tuition. Wow. And given the high cost of college today, the chance to save this amount of money is good.


I mean, we, we consider ourselves also an on-ramp. For high school students. So we’re not trying to replace college. We’re not trying to replace the experience or the social experience that you get from college. What we’re trying to do is offer a way for you to save time and to save a considerable amount of money just because college has become so, so, so expensive.


When I talk about college fit, I put it into four buckets. So financial fit being one. I mean, if it’s out of budget, we can’t go. Academic fit. I need to be able to admissible to the university. Then we’ve got the college major fit. They must have my major to get me to my future career, that first step into the world of work and then their social fit.


And what you’re talking about with those first two buckets coming up with the college fit list. If you could say. A whole year’s worth of college and the parent, the family has whatever amount they’ve saved to pay for college. You just open the doors to some other colleges that might be possible if you’re only paying for three years of college instead of four, because.


I think often families make the mistake of looking at that one-year cost of attendance instead of holistically looking at the total investment in college. And it doesn’t really matter if we’ve got our savings of 50,000, a hundred thousand, whatever it might be. It doesn’t matter how that spreads out. It matters what that total investment is.


So this could open the door to even a more expensive college that I couldn’t have considered before. And you’re right. And beyond freshman year, depending on the college, you can also use these courses in many cases to earn elective credits. So maybe you can take psychology or sociology, and that’s not your major, but you may get elective credit for that.


If the college accepts enough credits on top of your one year of college. I just want to go back and clarify one thing. So everybody knows that CLEP exams are credible. CLEP exams were created in 1968. They have been around for more than 50 years and they were originally created for adults. And for those in the military, and the idea was with club, get college credit for what you are ready to do.


You’ve learned something while you’re in the military, a particular area, you sit down and you take a CLEP exam. You were in college credit for it. We’ve reverse engineered that model. So instead of get college credit for what now, get college credit for what you do. And so that’s how we’ve approached it and how we have tried to help take CLEP out of the closet and make it more widely used for the, for the benefit of students and their families.


It’s fantastic. So in our show notes, we’ll have all the links. I prerecord all of these podcast episodes. And here we sit in April of 2022, and now I’m thinking. Oh, we got to get this out there so soon we can’t wait on this one because our students are taking those AP exams just weeks away. I love the idea of layering in a modern states course, right after the AP exam worked through.


Take that exam. It’s opens another avenue. It’s not dependent on how you do on that AP exam. You’ve got this super high passage rate and we’ve got kids heading into summer that they’re always looking for ways to have a summer of purpose. One of the things colleges frequently asked kids about in their college essays is how do you demonstrate intellectual curiosity?


And anytime is students learning outside the regular classroom. This is definitely a demonstration of intellectual curiosity as well. You’re absolutely right. A lot of high school students will take our courses and then take the correspondent clip exam in the summer when they have more time or during breaks, when they have more time, it also does something else.


Gifts. College is something else. It shows colleges what someone does rather than what they say they do in the sense that you are getting a highly motivated student. Someone’s doing this on their own time. And they are watching the course questing, the voucher, passing the. Using the voucher to sign up passing the exam.


That’s the kind of student a college wants. Now. We’ve got a growing number of colleges, Purdue university among them who are admitting students to their school. If they’ve taken pass five modern states courses and five CLEP exams while they’re not. For Purdue example is they wanted to reach kids in rural Indiana.


They weren’t doing it as well as they want it to. So they’re using this program to do it, but to your point, college is really do want to attract students because it, it it’s one thing to bring them in, but they want to attract students who are going to finish college and not just. Those statistics on the college side matter a lot.


Well, David, this has been so helpful. I’ve learned a ton. I guarantee you, our families have learned a lot, but you’re also giving them resources to make college more accessible and open doors. So thank you for making time to be on the podcast today. I really appreciate. Oh, you bet. And let me just say, it’s great to be on your show and podcast, and if people have questions or anything else, they can write to me, david@modernstates.org.


So I am available and I will answer your questions. If you prefer to talk. My cell phone is (202) 439-0318 and just dial anytime and I will. David vide. Wow. Okay. And I can, and I’ll test to this. I heard you on a friend’s podcast test and the rest, which is a fantastic one and I emailed right away and you get back to people.


So thank you for making yourself available. We’ll list all of that in the show notes as well. If our listeners didn’t grab it. And I see you coming on here again in the future. So thanks Dave. You’re welcome. Thanks for the opportunity.


Wow. I think I’m sold on this idea and I’m excited to hear from my listeners who take David and modern states up on their offer of tuition free high quality courses from top institutes. My regular listeners know that each week I give an actionable challenge for your college bound family. So here’s what I want you to do by the end of this very next weekend.


Head over to modern states.org, modern states.org. And I’ll also listed in the show notes and go to the courses tab and look at all of their course offerings. Sit down and discuss as a family, how one or more of them can fit in your teens. High school studies. I’m intentionally dropping this episode during AP exams because the topic aligns very closely.


Perhaps if your student is taking one or more AP exams in may, you may do a David encouraged, or you could even do it next year and take the aligned course from modern stays and the CLEP exam. Where you already have some great academic preparation from your school, or maybe this summer, your team can complete a course and take the CLEP exam before the next school year even starts having earned college credit.


If every family who listens had 18 complete just one course, it would be a savings of thousands upon thousands of dollars in future. What might that make possible for your family? I’m really excited for you to explore this and maybe add it to the summer to do list that I discussed back in episode 17, where I had you map out a meaningful college bound summer with my year by year checklist.


If you missed that episode, you might want to go back and listen to it. I’ll link to it in the. If today’s episode was helpful to you, please share it with a friend who needs this to sharing. Following the podcast rating and reviewing helps us resource more students to launch into a successful. Thank you for listening to the college and career clarity podcast, where I help your family move from overwhelmed and confused to motivated, clear and confident about your teens future .