delaying college due to covid

College Degree: A Dream Deferred for Many Americans?

Jul 21, 2021 | Career

What happens to a dream deferred?

– Langston Hughes

Why are more and more first-year students putting off college?

If you were planning to go to college last year or this year, you may know the feeling.

The last year and a half forced us to adjust how we work, socialize, and even go to school. It wouldn’t be premature to say COVID-19 changed life as we know it.

And this is especially true if you’re a prospective first-year college student. With many colleges and universities shutting down campuses and going remote, you may have chosen to take the time off instead.

You’re not alone. According to the Junior Achievement report, one-fourth of high school seniors chose to delay their plans to attend college due to the pandemic.

The reasons why are many. Maybe you wanted the full college experience, and with campuses shut down, internships canceled, and study abroad opportunities pushed out a year, you wouldn’t get it. Maybe, like most of us, you’ve been experiencing pandemic burnout, and the stress and worry associated with it caused you to change plans.

But probably one of the biggest reasons is finance. The simple fact is many people simply cannot afford college anymore, and there is a good reason why.

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Who pays for the cost of college?

It’s no secret that many young adults rely on their parents to pay the cost of college, and the pandemic has damaged many household finances.

The cost of higher education has always been frustrating for parents, but the pandemic has exacerbated things.

Even if your parents aren’t covering for your entire tuition, it’s likely they’re paying at least some of it, whether through Parent PLUS loans or dipping into savings. But COVID-19 has affected many people’s ability to pay for college. Nearly 8.4 million jobs have been lost since February 2020. Paying for college with reduced incomes and decimated savings can be problematic. Of the high school seniors who reported their parents would contribute to their college tuition, 37% stated their financial support was being cut back due to the pandemic.

But, if you’re a high school senior still willing to start your college career, you have options without breaking the bank. There are a few things you and your parents can do to help save college costs, and one of those is Credit-by-Exam.

What is Credit-by-Exam, and How Does it Work?

Did you know that you could earn college credits if you pass subject-specific tests? That’s the basis of Credit-by-Exam. So, instead of taking a course like American Government, you can take a single test on the subject, and once passed, receive the same credits as if you’d taken the course!

The number of courses you can test out of and how those credits will be applied depends on the college you attend. Discuss with your college’s advisor your school’s exact policy on Credit-by-Exam.

How many credits you can earn and how those credits are applied will vary depending on the college. Check with your academic advisor to find out your college’s exact policy on Credit-by-Exam.

Who Uses Credit-by-Exam?

Credit-by-Exam (CBE) tests are proficiency tests, which means usually people who are at least somewhat familiar with the subjects take them. But with programs like Smarter with Achieve, you can prep to pass CBE tests whether you’re familiar with the subject or not.
It isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Credit-by-Exam tests are usually an overview of the subject, not an exam that would require specialized knowledge. Secondly, Smarter with Achieve offers prep courses with virtual, live instruction, resources, and study guides to ensure you’re successful on your exams.

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Credit-by-Exam Test Types


Exam fee: $85 for each subject test
Credits: 3 – 6 credit hours per exam

You may have heard of CLEP. The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) has been around for decades and is recognized by thousands of accredited colleges and universities. The same company responsible for CLEP exams, The College Board, is also responsible for SAT and Advanced Placement (AP) tests.

There are 30 CLEP exams on different subjects, with each exam falling into five major categories:

  • World Languages
  • History and Social Sciences
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Composition and Literature
  • Business

There are over 2,000 CLEP testing centers nationwide. But if you can’t find a testing center, don’t sweat it; you can now even take your CLEP exam at home.

Prep for CLEP Exams with Smarter with Achieve. Learn more here.


Exam fee: $85 for each exam; free for service members
Credits: 3 per exam

The DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Test) was started in 1974 for people in the military. The program was intended to enable active service members and their spouses to earn college credit for training received on the job.

But, in 2006, DSST tests became available to everyone. Now anyone who wants to take DSST tests can earn college credits.

The DSST program offers over 30 exams on different subjects. The cost of each exam is $85, but military service members and their spouses can take DSST tests with fees waived.

You don’t have to put off college

Your college plans may have been put on hold, but Credit-by-Exam can help you make up for the missed time. A typical college course takes 16 weeks. Using Smarter with Achieve, and Credit-by-Exam, you can test out of college courses in as little as 4-6 weeks. When added up, you save 10 weeks of class time.

Look at it this way: in a traditional college, each course would take a semester. You’d meet several times a week, complete multiple assignments, possibly do group projects, write research papers, take several exams, and much more. All for the hefty price tag of $1,460 per course.

Smarter with Achieve has a different way. You’ll meet just once per week online to prepare to pass a Credit-by-Exam test. All you have to do is pay for your Smarter prep courses. Exam fees are waived*. Plus, you’ll get one condensed book free of charge.

So instead of missing out on a year of college, you can graduate on time and even earlier!

Smarter with Achieve Can Help

Smarter with Achieve provides a smart way to finish college faster through our credit by exam test prep solutions. Chat with us today. We’ll walk you through the smart way to earn college credits.

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