How I’m earning my degree
When I tell people how I’m doing college, they usually don’t understand how it works. So I thought I would start a series of posts on my blog detailing exactly what I am doing, and how you can do it too. In a nutshell, what I am doing is using alternative methods for earning college credit. This is called “testing out of college” because the most popular way to earn credit is through testing. Many students utilize these tests (CLEP, DSST, TECEP) to fill in a few missing credits in a pinch. However, there are a few people taking it a step further and using them for ALL of the required 120 credits.
There are only 3 colleges in the United States that allow you to transfer in a large majority of credits to graduate with them. (In stark contrast, most colleges will only let you transfer in a few outside credits.) These colleges let you earn most of your credits taking tests, then you transfer into the school and take anywhere from 1-8 courses with them. These colleges are Thomas Edison State University (TESU), Charter Oak State College (COSC), and Excelsior College. TESU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It is one of the seven regional accreditation organizations dating back 125 years, and is recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Of course the colleges mentioned don’t have the same prestige that comes with Ivy League schools, but your degree will be just as legitimate and cost significantly less.
Alternative credit options
There are many ways to earn alternative college credit and they aren’t all just tests! I’m going to quickly breeze over each of these so you can get an idea of what is available to you.
1. CLEP tests. College Board offers tests on various subjects, which usually take around 2 hours to complete. In order to receive credit, you need a score of about 60-70%. Each test is worth anywhere from 3-6 credits with some of the Foreign Language tests being worth 12 credits. Cost: about $120
2. DANTES tests– I haven’t taken any of these, but from my understanding they are harder to pass than CLEP.
3. ALEKS– These are tests, but more of a course/online program for learning math. Once you get to 70% knowledge on a course, you can request ALEKS to transfer your score to ACE (American Council on Education) for college credit. They offer various courses in algebra, statistics, precalculus, and trigonometry. Cost: $20 a month
4. Straighterline– A website providing courses in various subjects. These are actual courses, not just tests, which may be more appealing to you. Cost: $100 a month + around $50 per course
5. Saylor– I haven’t used this program, but they are FREE courses in a variety of subjects. If you are intending on getting credit for them, you will need to pay for a proctor through ProctorU for about $20. Most importantly, students will need to make sure that the course they choose is accredited through ACE.
6. TECEPs– TESU is another credit by exam program. From my understanding, these are hard and require lots of study to pass. Cost: $111 each
7. Sophia Learning– An organization that offers expensive online courses. Fortunately, they have the occasional coupon code you can use. Students need to score 70% to earn credit in these courses. I took Project Management through them and quite enjoyed it. Cost: $329
8. Study.com – Courses in various subjects. The main content of the course is presented in video format (with transcripts available) accompanied by small quizzes to test your knowledge. Proctored exam at the end. Cost: $200 a month for up to 2 courses.
In conclusion, there are many ways to earn college credit! I will continue to update this list whenever I find a new course or test. Although it seems too good to be true, you can earn your degree in this exact way! To recap: Take inexpensive tests or courses to earn college credit, transfer into one of the 3 colleges mentioned, take a capstone course, and graduate with a degree that took you less time and cost you less money! I plan to keep writing on this topic, so if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.