Frequently Asked Questions

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1. About the Academy
  • What do I get when I sign up for a course today?

    Top-level online courses with Christ-focused content
    Curriculum that really engages—in weekly “live” and online-delivered learning
    State-of-the-art, “face-to-face” real-time interactive live classes each week
    Video, audio, and multi-faceted and multi-modal materials that you can access over and over, as needed
    A clear scope and sequence of the course that you and your student can easily follow
    Specific, detailed feedback from a Classroom Teacher—for continued progress—so that the  student knows what to improve
    Between the course, your books and materials, and your instructor to help, you have  everything you need—with everything included—nothing’s missing
    Your instructor available for you, to answer questions and help you succeed in the course
    Easy design and delivery—helping your student understand and thrive in the online  environment
    AP courses that meet each and every guideline for excellence from the national College Board

  • Who is the “Patrick Henry College Preparatory Academy?”

    In 2009, Patrick Henry College Preparatory Academy Online began providing you top-level Advanced Placement (AP) courses—especially designed by the Patrick Henry College faculty and professionals in their advanced fields—for home schoolers, private high school students, and others across the world.

    PHC Prep Academy carries the Patrick Henry College name—and gives you the same top-level quality teaching and learning that you expect from a world-leader in Christ-centered education—designed to help you prepare your child as a fully-devoted Christ-follower—to make a positive, dynamic impact in the family—and in the world.

  • What does Advanced Placement (AP*) mean?

    “AP” stands for “Advanced Placement.” AP courses are high school courses taught at the college level. The Advanced Placement program is overseen by a group called the College Board. The College Board approves the syllabus for each course that earns the AP title, making sure that it covers specific content that meets guidelines for rigor and quality. If you want detailed information about AP courses, Click here… 

  • Does my student get college credit for an AP course?

    After you take one of our courses, you can take the AP exam in May that matches the course. If you get a qualifying score, you can earn college credit, advanced placement, or both—depending on the college you attend (applies at over 90% of U.S. four-year colleges, as well as some international schools). The courses, though college level, are still technically high school courses, so you don’t get college credit directly just by taking the course. But students who do well in a PHC Prep course will have the skills and knowledge to do well—and achieve a credit-worthy score—on the corresponding AP exam. If you want to know more about the AP exams and how they work, simply click here, where you can get direct information from the College Board on its AP exams.

    You may also like to take a look at how PHC Prep Academy students performed on their AP exams in the past.

  • How can Advanced Placement (AP) courses be Christian?

    All of the courses were designed by strong Christian believers who are seasoned experts in their fields—many of them Patrick Henry College professors—and include practical, specific how-to integration of the Bible and its teachings into the subject area—so that your student can learn not just information, but also how to apply that information and think in this world as a Christian believer. The courses fully meet the College Board’s AP requirements and follow AP curriculum guidelines—without compromising their distinctively Christian character. When a course syllabus is approved by the College Board, which oversees the high quality of AP courses nationwide, PHC Prep’s unapologetically Christian approach is clearly included from the start…not added in later.

    Please note: The Christian worldview is integrated into the curriculum…totally integrated and personally written in, by our course designers who are Christians, leaders, and professionals in their fields. This is not a secular curriculum with the Bible “slapped on top.” Each course has been specifically designed to help your student use the dynamic knowledge as a fully-equipped believer in the world today.

  • Who teaches the courses?

    Most PHC Prep Academy courses have both a Master Teacher and Classroom Teacher. The Master Teacher—a highly-qualified professional with exceptional expertise in the area of study—is the vision behind the course and its AP-approved syllabus, who personally designs and creates course content and oversees the progress of the course during the year. Each Classroom Teacher is a fully-qualified instructor with a degree and specific knowledge that leads your student to success—and a heart to help your student individually improve and grow, while thriving in the online environment. To view the Master Teachers and Classroom teachers, click here.

  • How do I know that PHC Prep Academy is one of the best ways to take online courses today?

    First...think Quality. Patrick Henry College is known for its excellence, and PHC Prep Academy is no different.

    Second…think Complete. The courses, designed by college professors and experts in their fields, are packed full of exceptional content that will put your child ahead.

    Third…think Cutting-Edge. These aren’t just materials put up online for you to download, with a once-a-week meeting with a teacher. Your student uses the same cutting-edge online system that Patrick Henry College uses—with dynamic, interactive media that engages and gets the knowledge home, to your student’s mind and heart.

    Finally…think Personal. Your student will get personal interaction and feedback—to ensure that there’s full understanding—not lacking in anything. So if you want your student to have the best education possible, then you’ll want to sign up for courses here.

2. About the Students
  • Who are these courses for? How do I know that my student should take them?


    PHC Prep Academy courses are for any families or private schools who

    • Want the best, top-level learning for their students
    • Value and want Christian-worldview courses that provide both knowledge and practical, Christ-follower application—with the encouragement of instructors who genuinely believe and live out what they are teaching 
    • Want their students to get ahead
    • Want their students to have the opportunity to get college credit now
    • Want the opportunity to save money now
    • Want their students to have a life-changing experience interacting with peers from around the world in live and online discussions
    • Want to save time and money in transportation to an outside college-level class source
    • Want the convenience of online learning
    • Want personal attention and feedback from a highly-qualified, dedicated to “the personal touch” Classroom Teacher

    Students must be high school juniors or seniors, or sophomores who have taken advanced courses; have excellent writing and reading skills; be willing to commit 10 to 15 hours per week to each course; and be able to meet the entrance ability guidelines. You can read more about what characterizes a well-prepared AP student on our Academic Readiness page.

    To read each course’s guidelines, simply click here and go to the course listing. Then click on the course you are interested in. You will be taken to the course page with all of the details for your course, including the entrance guidelines.

  • Are AP courses only for advanced, super-smart, gifted kids who are ahead?

    We want students to enroll who care about the material and who are serious about learning. It’s not about signing up because you’re a straight-A student. Yes, these are intense courses, and you have to be prepared to work hard. But it’s the student who puts the time into the course, who is the most active participant, and who cares about the course who does well.

  • Can non-homeschooled students take these courses?

    Absolutely. Anyone who wants to take advantage of these courses can sign up.

  • Can my younger student take these courses?

    Some students, though not the typical junior or senior, are bright and score very highly on standardized tests. Such students may do well in the courses here. The evaluation of a student’s abilities and readiness is in the parents’ hands. Read all of the info here, to be able to decide whether or not your child is ready:

    General guidelines: A good place to start is our Academic Readiness page, which describes some characteristics of a well-prepared AP student.

    Course-specific guidelines: We have course-specific entrance guidelines as well. From our course listing page, follow the link to the course description page for each course you are interested in. At the bottom of each course description page, read the information under the heading, “Am I Ready for this AP Course?” to help you make your decisions.

    Pretests: Two of the courses have pretests (Physics B and Calculus AB). Your teen may take the pretests at any time, as the documents are self-scoring (you grade the test with the answer key provided). If your student does well on the pretest, then by all means, sign up. We’re happy to have you with us.

    If you have questions on whether or not your younger student is a “fit,” please feel free to call us at 540-338-8290, or email info@phcprep.org.

  • Can a student no longer in high school take these courses?

    Absolutely. Students of all ages are welcome to take courses with PHC Prep Academy. Courses can be taken for personal enrichment and individual learning. Finished high school and want more? Sign up. Parents, do you want to take the course right along with your student? Feel free to sign up. It’s not a requirement to take the AP exam at the end of the course. So if you’re interested in learning more, click here and sign up now.

  • What about students with learning challenges or disabilities?

    The format of our courses allows for a lot of flexibility for students who have learning challenges or disabilities. For slow readers, timed tests can be set for longer test-taking times. Parents can read the text to the student. Online components can be viewed again and again, as needed. We can also look to the College Board accommodations for the exams and take the accommodations into consideration while prepping your student for the exams. If you’re a parent who has the time and dedication to help your student, we’re happy to work with you. We help you find the right approach on a case-by-case basis, so please contact us to discuss the best options for your student by phone (540-338-8290) or email (info@phcprep.org).

  • What kind of students succeed at PHC Prep Academy?

    Students who succeed are self-motivated and self-disciplined learners. They check their email and course work in a timely way, complete assignments on time, actively participate in class discussions, and contact their instructor whenever they have questions. In this college-level academic environment, they work hard and have a strong desire to learn.

    Your student must also have a baseline of knowledge for the course material, have excellent writing and reading skills, and be willing to commit 10 to 15 hours per week to each course. If your student is self-motivated, self-disciplined learner; can complete assignments on time; can actively participate in class discussions; and can seek instructor guidance and answers to questions, then your student will most likely succeed here.

  • Tell me why it’s right to sign my student up for a course today…

    As you’re sitting here at the computer reading these words, you know the best for your student—so you know when the program is right. So don’t miss out. Class sizes are limited. Sign up today.

3. About the Courses
  • How do I know that my student is ready for these courses?

    Each course has entrance guidelines. To read the guidelines for a course, click here to go to the course listing and then click on the course that you want to sign up for. You can read more about what characterizes a well-prepared AP student on our Academic Readiness page. If you still have questions about a student’s readiness, call our office at 540-338-8290, or email info@phcprep.org. We can help.

  • Exactly how does a course “work”?

    Each course is designed as a highly-interactive, structured course. It’s convenient—as you can access the course 24/7. The system is friendly and easy to use. 

    Lectures are presented in text, audio, and audiovisual formats, and students interact with each other and their instructors through message boards, webinars, and email. The flexibly structured classes allow students to complete their coursework around other activities and commitments.

    Students receive a syllabus and use course books and the materials posted online—including documents to read, audio files to listen to, videos to watch, and live sessions to attend. The course materials guide you into weekly activities, including reading, interacting online, and submitting written and posted assignments. Assignments are graded with personal feedback, so that your teen knows what to do, to improve.

  • How flexible is the class schedule?

    Many of our students are debaters and travel to compete. Other students are involved in dance, sports, and music. And some students live across the world, as in England or China. Because the courses are online, it’s relatively easy to work around school-related schedules. The important thing is to communicate with your Classroom Teacher early, so that he or she can work with your schedule (for example, by opening up a quiz’s availability early).

    Also, the 10 to 15 hour estimate for the time needed to work well in the course is “typical”; that means that some students will take longer to complete the work, and other students will not take as long. You’re the best judge as to your student’s abilities to balance extra-curricular commitments and course work, when you join us for one or more courses.

  • Tell me about the webinars and group sessions…

    Each course has a “live” weekly webinar session with your student (along with all of the students in the course). Right from your student’s desktop, with a few clicks, he or she will login, learn from the instructor via live video or audio, and interact—in real-time—with the instructor and other students. You’ll get in-depth learning beyond the book with an expert, get answers to questions, and be personally involved. Each live session is recorded while it’s taking place, so if you want to make sure you “get it,” you can view it again and again, as it’s right there for you.

  • Do students have to attend webinars “live”? What if my student has a commitment during that time?

    Each course has a “live” time for class each week. To meet all of the requirements of a course, it’s not strictly necessary to attend the webinar sessions at the scheduled time. What’s expected is for the student to 1) communicate to the Classroom Teacher that he or she has a conflict, 2) watch the recording of the online session, and 3) communicate with the Classroom Teacher on a regular basis, to have any questions answered. A student might be asked to fulfill the participation requirement in a different way, such as submitting questions for the live session in advance or emailing the Classroom Teacher after watching the recording.

    Each course is different; missing a math or science live session where the instructor goes over how to solve a problem may be different from missing a discussion-based session. And each student is different; how your experience differs between participating “live” and viewing live session recordings will depend on your learning style. Whether it works for your schedule to attend sessions “live” or not, interaction is a part of the course for every PHC Prep Academy student—for example, on class discussion boards, through email exchanges, in a “Virtual Office” forum, or in writing or lab groups. We’ll work with you so that your student has success here.

  • How much does the Classroom Teacher interact with my student?

    Your Classroom Teacher interacts with you each week in the live session and is available via email and class message boards, so you can get answers quickly to your questions.

  • Tell me how my student gets direct feedback that’s individualized—so my student moves ahead…

    Your student gets direct feedback on assignments, so that he or she can move forward in the fastest way possible. Personal comments, discussion board feedback, and online auto-grading are some of the ways that your student can receive timely direction and help.

  • Will my course count for credit at Patrick Henry College (PHC)?

    At Patrick Henry College as at other colleges, it is not your AP course that can earn you college credit, but the College Board AP exam score you earn after completing that course.  Which scores a particular college accepts are governed by the college’s AP Credit Policy.

    You can find out more about PHC’s AP Credit Policy when you click here (scroll down to “Credit from Other Sources”).

  • Explain how having the materials online is a benefit to my student…

    In a face-to-face course, you often don’t get a chance to have the teacher repeat the material. Here, if it’s in video or audio, you can watch or listen to it as many times as you’d like…and you can review it again and again. All “live” weekly sessions are recorded, too…so if you missed anything, or you want to learn it even better, you simply go back and watch the recording at any time of day or night. It’s ideal for your student’s learning—and for mastering the material.

4. For Parents Only...
  • Is the parent involved at all?

    Everything is provided for your student to work independently. However, we recommend that parents stay involved—talking with their student about the course each week, following scores and comments, and asking questions as needed. It’s good to stay up on your student’s progress with a simple check-in. For test-taking, the student is also required to have a proctor, usually a parent. Proctors oversee the tests to ensure honesty and, at times, receive testing materials (such as timed essay questions or free-response math problems). We communicate directly with you, the parent, as well as with your student.

  • 
Does the parent have access to the student’s class, to see what’s there?

    Yes. All before-class communication is sent to both the parent and the student—including login information. You can access your student’s materials (documents, videos, audio files, and so on), live recordings, and grades.

  • During the semester, can I find out how my student is doing in the course?

    Yes; you can access the course and returned grades at any time. You can also contact the Classroom Teacher to discuss grades and work at any time; contact information is provided to you.

  • I’ve checked out the course pages for the course that I’m interested in. Can I find out more details about the course?

    Yes—If you have more questions, please call us at 540-338-8290, or email info@phcprep.org. We’re happy to talk together with you.

  • Can I see a list of a course’s textbooks?

    Yes. Click here to visit the Virtual Bookstore to check out the books for a course. You’re also welcome to call us with questions about books and materials at 540-338-8290, or you can email a question to info@phcprep.org.

    The Virtual Bookstore is scheduled to open for the 2014–15 academic year in May 2014. Before the Virtual Bookstore opens, you may find information about books and materials by going to our course catalog and clicking the name of the course that interests you. A book list for each course is posted on its course description page.

    Please be sure to check the academic year on the book list:

    1. If the book list indicates that it is for the 2014–15 academic year, then these titles have been finalized for the coming school year.
    2. If the book list refers to the 2013–14 academic year, you may use it to get a general idea of the books for the course, but should not purchase the books until an up-to-date list is available.
  • Can I see testimonials from other students, parents, and schools?

    Yes. Click here to read what they have to say.

  • Do you issue a high school transcript?

    PHC Prep Academy courses are offered “a la carte”: You choose courses as you like—so transcripts aren’t issued. However, it’s easy to incorporate the information in the course syllabus into your homeschool-high school transcript. And, at the end of a course, you’ll get 1) an official statement of the student’s final grade, 2) a certificate of participation, and 3) a copy of the College Board’s letter of official AP approval for the course, for your records.

  • What if my student has never taken an online course before?

    No worries. We’ll give you everything that you need, to get comfortable with the online environment. And technical support is always here for you.

  • How easy is it, really, to sign up and start right now?

    It’s truly simple, and it doesn’t take much time. Click here and sign up now.

5. For Private School Administrators Only...
  • Where do I get specific information about partnering with PHC Prep Academy to bring AP courses to my school?

    Find out how to get AP courses for your students—Click here now… 

    Additionally, you can find a quick, two-page summary of how PHC Prep Academy can work with your school in our Private School Partnerships Opportunity Profile.

6. PHC Prep AP Courses: Your Best Choice...
  • Are these courses widely accepted by other schools and colleges?

    We partner with private schools as the provider of official AP courses for their students. If you’d like your private school to partner with us, to provide excellent AP courses for your students, then contact us, and we’ll help to make that happen.

    Private and public high schools have their own policies for accepting outside credit toward graduation requirements, so we encourage you to contact the school you’d like to transfer the credit to.

    To find out how our AP courses can help you earn credit for college, click here.

    Remember: All of our AP courses are “official”—that means they’re approved by the College Board in a rigorous audit process—and all courses meet the College Board standard for fully preparing your student to take the AP exam. Your AP exam score is what can get you the college credit. Each college has its own guidelines for score acceptance; contact your college for their policies as to how taking AP exams will get you college credit, or check out the College Board’s AP credit policy lookup tool.

  • Tell me why my student shouldn’t just take a community college course, but take these courses instead…

    To read 4 Good Reasons that PHC Prep Outshines a Community College Experience, click here.

  • What are the unique benefits that these AP courses offer that I’ll not get anywhere else?

    Uniquely-designed, solid-Christian-content AP courses by Christian leaders and college educators. An excellent online community. Saving you time and money. And the good feeling that you’re giving your teen the best. That’s what you find when you sign up for courses here.

7. Your Registration...
  • I heard these courses are a great price with excellent content… So how much does a course cost?

    To see course costs, click here.

  • When is the registration deadline so that I can sign up on time?

    If you pay by credit card, then use the dates below to sign up (if  you want to pay by check, the deadline is two weeks before the posted date below):

    FALL AND YEARLONG COURSES – 2014–15
    Registration for fall and yearlong courses closes on Friday, August 15, 2014.
    Fall classes begin on Monday, August 25, 2014.

    SPRING COURSES – 2015
    Registration for spring-only courses closes on Friday, January 9, 2015.

    Spring classes begin on Monday, January 12, 2015.

    Remember—the course you want to take may fill up before the deadline, so register now to reserve your spot!

    For other important dates, please see the 2014–15 Academic Calendar

  • I’m a member of HSLDA; what do I do to get member savings?

    It’s easy. On the registration page, look for the box for your HSLDA Member Number. Simply place the number in the field, and your discount will be automatically applied. Note: You may want to make sure that your membership is current. To renew your membership, go to www.hslda.org and click “Renew,”  or call 540-338-5600 and ask for the HSLDA Membership Department. 

    Looking for more info? Visit our Membership Discount page to learn more about how the discount works.

  • I’m not a member of HSLDA; how do I join today and get member savings?

    To join HSLDA, call 540-338-5600 and ask for the HSLDA Membership Department. Or, you can our visit our page on becoming an HSLDA member.

    It takes a certain amount of time to process an application, so it may take up to two or three weeks before your member account number is active in the system. Membership applications submitted online typically take the least time to process. If you’re close to the course registration deadline and concerned about the timing, please call us at 540-338-8290.

  • Do you offer financial aid or scholarships?

    We don’t offer financial aid or scholarships—but you may be eligible for a Home School Foundation grant. To contact the Home School Foundation, click here.

  • If something comes up between now and the start date, what is the PHC Prep Academy refund policy?

    If you need to drop a course, log into your account, and simply click “Drop This Course” next to the course you wish to drop. You will be eligible for a partial refund of course tuition up to the tenth business day of the semester when the course begins. After the tenth business day, no refunds are available. The $25 registration fee is non-refundable.

    To read PHC Prep Academy’s full refund policy, please click here.

  • I’ve already registered… and now I want to add another course. Is the process different?

    Yes—the process is a little different. So we don’t end up with duplicate accounts, students need to log in to their existing account to register for more courses. Click on the “Student Login” link in the upper right corner to go to your student profile page, and from there you can click on the “Enroll in an additional course” link.

8. Your Technical Support...
  • When I sign up, what kind of technical support will I get?

    When you sign up today, you immediately get 24/7 access to the Online Helpdesk—as well as personal as-needed help from the PHC Prep Academy staff during business hours.

  • Really—How easy is it to begin and get comfortable right away with the courses?

    As soon as you’ve signed up and your registration is processed, the very first thing that you will see online is a student tutorial that is split into “units.” Each unit takes you through simple “how to” instructions for how the online system works. You’ll be able to go in and go through the tutorial at your leisure—and you’ll easily learn how to navigate the courses. You’ll hear from your Classroom Teacher via an email (about a month before the course starts), which includes course-specific instructions on what you need to know, to begin well.

  • I’m convinced that this is right for our family—how do I sign up?
9. I've Signed Up - What's Next?...
  • How do I get the books for my course?

    Books may be ordered from the PHC Prep Bookstore online, or you may call 1-800-325-3252. Do you have questions about ordering books? The bookstore can address your questions about new or used books, ordering and shipping, or buyback and returns.

  • When will I hear from my instructor?

    About a month before the course starts, your Classroom Teacher will contact you via email. If it’s just before the course starts and you haven’t heard from the Classroom Teacher, please contact us at 540-338-8290. Sometimes Spam Filters get in the way of delivery (and other silly issues that can be fixed quite easily). We want to help you to take care of any issues and make sure that we have good communication together throughout the course.

  • How will the course officially begin?

    The official start date for the fall 2014 and 2014–15 yearlong courses is Monday, August 25, 2014. The official start date for the spring 2015 courses is Monday, January 12, 2015. To find more important dates on the official calendar, click here.

    On the official start date of your course, instead of seeing only the tutorial, you’ll be able to view the “real” course. Even though your first class webinar may not be held on that first day, you can still access the course and get going. Working on your own right away is part of being in the class. Make sure that you can log in, move around the course and get familiar with the layout (as you learned in the tutorial), and feel free to introduce yourself to the other students in the Student Café. You can also start on course readings and assignments, as directed by the syllabus.

  • What happens when my student has a question?

    You can email your instructor at any time. Your instructor may offer a Virtual Office, where you can post questions online. When you contact your Classroom Teacher, he or she will try to get back with you as soon as possible. Remember: This class is not an independent study; you’re not on your own. We’re here to interact and help. And if you have a technical question, PHC Prep Academy’s online learning management system offers 24/7 Helpdesk support.

  • How do I contact the PHC Prep Academy office, to talk with someone directly?

    Call 540-338-8290 or email info@phcprep.org. We will get back with you by the end of the next business day.