April 24, 2013
David Hoftiezer, Director of Admissions
By David Hoftiezer
Director of Admissions
Every day, I talk to adults who contact Thomas Edison State College about coming back to college.
One of the most important things I tell them is that they can finish their degree without sacrificing their personal and professional responsibilities, but they have to be willing to do the work. It is not easy, but it is doable.
Many adults run their own businesses, supervise employees, raise children and manage personal or corporate finances and still find time to come back to college and finish their degree. If you are a busy adult who is thinking about coming back to college, my best advice is to be thoughtful about your needs before selecting an institution.
Today, there are many options designed for adult learners that go way beyond online courses and taking classes at night or on weekends. First and foremost, academic integrity, quality and flexibility are key items that any college or university should have.
First, I suggest you determine whether the school you are considering is accredited. The academic quality of any institution is directly tied to its accreditation, which is an independent review of a school’s educational programs to determine that the education provided is of uniform and sound quality. An institution that has earned accreditation ensures that it has met established standards of quality determined by the organization granting the accreditation.
The most recognized and accepted type of accreditation in the United States is regional accreditation. There are six geographic regions of the United States with an agency that regionally accredits college and university higher education programs:
- The Middle States Commission on Higher Education: (institutions in Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico)
- The New England Association of Schools and Colleges: (institutions in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont)
- The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools: (institutions in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming)
- The Northwest Accreditation Commission: (institutions Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington)
- The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools: (institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia)
- The Western Association of Schools and Colleges: (institutions in California, Hawaii, the territories of Guam, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Pacific Basin, East Asia, and areas of the Pacific and East Asia where American/International schools or colleges may apply to it for service)
For more information about institutional quality and accreditation, visit the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity website.
In addition, it is important to determine how a school offers its academic programs.
- Do its programs work around your schedule?
- How does the school define flexible?
- What learning options are available, in addition to a traditional classroom setting?
- Does the school offer the program you want and in the format you need?
Next, remember that you have different needs today than you had when you were a fresh-faced teen who just graduated from high school. You may have earned college credits at another institution or acquired college-level knowledge can be applied as college credit toward a degree. That said, it is important to consider:
The answers to these questions can serve as a guide to selecting a school that is a good match for the prospective adult student.
Read our FAQs about going back to college.
Got a question for Dave? Contact him at [email protected] or (609) 984-1164, ext. 3025.
Going Back to College
April 12, 2013
Todd Siben, Assistant Director of Portfolio Assessment at Thomas Edison State College
By Todd Siben
Assistant Director of Portfolio Assessment
Attention writers, salespeople and creative types: I may have a method of earning college credit that fits your personality and skill set.
Students often ask, “Is portfolio assessment for me?” While we can answer that question, I want to turn that question around to help you determine, “Are you right for portfolio assessment?”
Portfolio assessment and prior learning assessment (PLA) may be the most nontraditional method of earning credit, even at nontraditional institutions. It is different than earning credit via a credit-by-exam program. So, what makes someone a good candidate for portfolio assessment?
My response to that question is based on years of observation. I’ve probably reviewed in excess of 100,000 portfolios in my years at Thomas Edison State College, and as a result I have some thoughts about the characteristics of people who are the most successful with utilizing the College’s Portfolio Assessment process in earning college credit. These include:
- Writers: The written word and narrative is a critical part of a portfolio assessment when breaking down and articulating the details of your college-level knowledge. This includes detailing the who, what, where, when and how you acquired the knowledge and applied it to a real-life setting and what documentation you can provide to support your narrative. Writers tend to find the PLA process to be within their grasp.
- Savers: Portfolio assessment can be ideal for those who save everything. When you need a copy of a certificate you’ve earned, you know where to find it. It’s in the second drawer from the bottom in that old metal file cabinet hidden in the back of your attic, behind the old coat rack. Whether it’s in a shoebox in your garage or an old, musty box in your basement, you know where exactly where it is because you keep things like that for the day when you know you will need it! And because of this, you will be able to document your accomplishments.
- Paper Chasers: Portfolio assessment can be a good option for those who love the challenge of definitively proving a point by using documentation to make their case. If you can substantiate your claims of college-level knowledge by documenting evidence and incorporating that evidence into detailed report, you should excel at producing a strong PLA portfolio.
- Law Enforcement Professionals: Portfolio assessment is typically a good match for people in law enforcement because they understand ANYTHING can be viewed as evidence as long as you can show how it helps prove your case. Training in writing detailed, descriptive reports also positions law enforcement professionals well for developing a PLA portfolio.
- Confident People: Are you the person in your organization who is the in-house “expert” on something? It can be anything, from Microsoft Excel or digital photography to proofreading or project planning. Portfolio assessment can be a good option for people who have a body of knowledge that colleagues recognize and that can be equated to a college-level course.
- Storytellers: At least a portion of the narrative you write in your portfolio assessment is a story about something you’ve done or experienced. A good storyteller does not leave out the details and can go through the events in order, select the truly salient information and tell it in a way that is captivating and informative.
- Salespeople: You know this type. They are always selling something, whether it’s a new product or a new idea. Are you the determined type who expresses yourself well and persuades others to share your perspective? If so, portfolio assessment could be for you.
- Creative Types: Portfolio assessment can be especially well-suited for those in the creative or performing arts because they have learned to archive their accomplishments (whether it is on film, video, CD, DVD, MP3 or in written reviews) and promote their recent projects. For example, artists can show their paintings (finished or not), actors and musicians can share reviews of their performances, playbills and recorded works.
- Conceptualizers: If you can envision a relatively complex process from start to finish or are especially good at anticipating outcomes, you may be a good match for portfolio assessment and successfully structuring a PLA portfolio.
- Parents of newborns: The month following a birth of a new baby (assuming the baby has settled into a schedule) may be a good time to tackle a portfolio assessment. This method of earning credit may be ideal for this chapter of your life because it allows you to work on the portfolio in five or ten minute intervals, especially when your time and attention are torn between your baby and course work.
- People with Applied Skills: Although much of the information about portfolio assessment accentuates the college-level knowledge you possess, those who have concrete, real-world expertise in a specific subject area that can substantiate the knowledge are often successful with portfolio assessments.
So, do any of these characteristics sound familiar?
If so, then perhaps there’s college credit already in your head that has yet to be documented and validated. The best way to find out is to talk to someone in the PLA office of your college or university!
At Thomas Edison State College, contact me at [email protected].
prior learning assessment
April 03, 2013
Emily Carone, Assistant Director, Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College
by Emily Carone, Assistant Director,
Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College
I work with TECEP®, the Thomas Edison State College Exam Program, which is the College's own credit-by-exam program, which I wrote about previously in this blog.
While I can't help you study, I can give you some practical advice to help you take tests. If you already have some prior knowledge in any of the subjects we offer, you might be interested in the study tips below. Naturally, these tips apply to all tests and credit-by-exam programs, including common ones like the College-Level Exam Program (CLEP) and our own TECEP®.
Best of all, you don't need to learn any complicated techniques, because most test-taking tips are not rocket science--they're plain old common sense.
So, here are four test-taking tips I hope you find helpful in preparing for your next exam.
- Cramming for a test is not as effective as following a consistent study schedule leading up to the test. You will retain more information for a longer period of time if you schedule several shorter study sessions during the days before the test. Of course you should cram if you haven't studied and your test is tomorrow.
- Don't study your material in sequence from the beginning to the end. Jump around. If you study "out of order" you are more likely to remember the information. Many tests randomize the order of the questions so if you learn the material in sequence it will be harder for you to recall it during the test.
- While you are studying, try to ignore all things digital, like your phone, unless you are using a device to study. Digital distractions—even very brief ones—diminish information retention and recall.
- Review difficult material before bedtime (not if you're tired!), then get a good night's sleep. Your brain will process the information overnight.
Hope this is helpful and I'll be back again.
Until then, contact us at [email protected] or add your comment below if you would like to share your own tips with us.