April 03, 2014
By Todd Siben, Assistant Director
Prior Learning/Portfolio Assessment
Concerned about the math requirements in your degree? Perhaps it’s been 20 years - or more - since you studied math. Depending on your degree program, fulfilling your math requirement may not be as difficult as you think.
First consider the degree you have chosen and the math requirement for that degree. Ask yourself, "Have I chosen a degree appropriate for my own ability?" For example, since you haven't studied math in almost 20 years, your math skills may be rusty. Perhaps the last math you studied was algebra, and you passed, but barely. Now you've chosen a degree that requires calculus I and II.
Taking that calculus course may require that you first refresh your algebra skills. Then you'll be better prepared to take the next logical sequence of courses. Math is taught in logical sequences, with concepts built upon previously learned concepts.
Consider Your Comfort Level
According to College mentors Ildy and Csaba Boer, "it is better to start with a lower-level math course even if it doesn't fulfill your degree needs. Students who lack basics often do not succeed when taking a course above their level. Instead of dropping down to a lower-level course, they repeat the higher-level course again, unsuccessfully, wasting both their money and time."
Consider Your Assets
As a self-directed, mature student, perhaps you are better prepared to study math now than you were years ago. You are more analytical, more disciplined and more driven toward degree completion. So, why be threatened by a math requirement?
Consider Your Degree
Some institutions require algebra for all degrees. Thomas Edison State College offers alternatives. If you have selected a liberal arts or human services degree, the math requirement can usually be satisfied with an "entry level" math such as MAT-105 Applied Liberal Arts Math. Although MAT-105 is a reasonable option, students often choose intermediate or college-level algebra because they've heard the word "algebra" before, so it seems more familiar than a course called "Applied Liberal Arts Math." This fear-of-the-unknown can result in the incorrect choice.
Perhaps you are pursuing a business degree that requires MAT-119 Quantitative Business Analysis. If you wait until the last few courses to complete this requirement, then find you are unable to pass the course and switch to a liberal arts degree with a lower math requirement, you may find that you now need additional credits to earn the new degree. This situation can often be avoided with a bit of advanced planning.
(Cue your advisor…)
Consider Your Options
Along with the many online math courses available to you, credit-by-exam programs such as CLEP and DANTES (DSST) standardized tests in math and statistics. Some investigate math courses by distance from other schools. Some students just prefer to take math as a classroom course at a local college whenever possible. Also consider that a statistics course can satisfy your math requirement for some degree programs.
Before you jump ahead and register for a math course, discuss the options with your advisor. In most cases, there are choices that will be a better fit for you, your learning style and your level of capability in math.
Ultimately the choice will not only have an impact on your success but on the amount of antacid and aspirin required to successfully complete the course. Choose wisely!
February 25, 2014
For most college students, the path to earning credit typically involves several weeks of listening to lectures, taking notes, completing assignments and passing a mid-term and final exam.
But if you could earn that credit in less time and at a fraction of the cost of taking a formal course, would you be interested? There would be no assignments to complete and no lectures or classes to attend, just an exam to pass.
Sounds like a dream come true? It’s actually a method that’s been used for decades.
Credit-by-exam programs have become popular among students who want to complete their degree requirements more efficiently than taking traditional courses, and who want to accelerate their pace and contain costs. Today, credit-by-exam programs have become instrumental in developing new pathways for students to earn credit, including the College’s new open course option that capitalizes on the value these programs offer.
Nearly 3,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. accept credit-by-exam as transfer credit. The programs enable students to earn credit by passing a single exam and tend to be a good fit for independent learners, students who possess college-level knowledge and students who are good test takers.
Credit-by-exam programs are not for everyone, especially students who prefer a structured environment and interacting with a professor and fellow students. Deciding to earn college credit by preparing for an exam that covers a semester's worth of content means you have to be self-motivated and disciplined. This approach appeals to many busy adult students who have competing demands on their time and who prefer to work independently.
If you are considering credit-by-exam programs, talk with your academic advisor to make sure credits from the exam you are planning to take can be transferred to satisfy a requirement in your degree program.
Then, the rest is up to you. Establish and follow your own study schedule, and brush up on a few test-taking tips to prepare you for your exam. Show up on your test date, which you select, and be ready to take a comprehensive final exam.
Want to learn more about credit-by-exam programs? Check out our list of credit-by-exam programs available for students to earn credit, here.
February 18, 2014
All too often, students think that only the courses taken sitting in a classroom will transfer as college credit. However, credit can be so much more than a list of courses on a transcript. Transfer credit can include professional licenses and certifications, military training and professional training. You can also earn credit through exams and portfolio assessment.
With so many options to earn transfer credit, students should really explore what works for them so they do not have to put their lives and careers on hold by taking courses that, chances are, they already know everything about. Your goal is our goal – to finish your college degree – and the more options you have, the quicker you’ll get there.
Here are 10 signs that you probably already have more college-level knowledge than you think. If at any point you stop and say, “hey, that’s me!” – just follow the links to learn how you can get earn those credits ASAP.
1. You brag about your professional license or certification.
You’ve already studied, taken a test and passed. If you possess a current and valid license and certification in one of more than 60 fields ranging from aviation to healthcare, law enforcement to business, you could earn college credit. The College’s Office for Assessment of Professional Workplace Learning, the American Council on Education (ACE) and the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS)
have already evaluated and approved several licenses and certifications for college credit. You can find them organized by topic, here.
2. You show off what you learned after completing a training program for your profession.
If you participated in any apprenticeships and courses taken at your workplace, be it through a corporation, government agency, professional association or union, or any specialized training program, your professional license and certification may have already been evaluated for college credit. You can create a transcript of your training, with appropriate documentation, to send to the Registrar for review.
3. You’ve become the “in-house expert” at your organization on something.
Are you the person who trains new recruits? Or are you always the go-to person whenever a colleague has a question? It can be anything, from project planning to editing, or budget balancing to problem solving. Obviously, your colleagues already recognize your extensive knowledge, and you can too by documenting and equating what you know with a college-level course through portfolio assessment.
4. You have military experience or attended a military service school.
If you have military experience, depending on the military training documented in the Joint Service Transcripts (JST), transcripts from the Community College of the Air Force and the Coast Guard Institute or, you are a service member who left the military before 1886, you may be able earn additional college credit. Learn how you can submit official transcripts and receive credit, here.
5. You have taught college-level courses, for college credit, at a regionally accredited college or university.
Were you the primary instructor? Or the person responsible for determining and submitting course grades? There are instances where a regionally accredited college or university may employ a faculty instructor who is without a completed baccalaureate degree. There is a certain level of expertise in teaching such courses, and you can earn Credit for Courses Taught.
6. You practically have a second job volunteering in your community.
Do you volunteer beyond the occasional bake sale? Does your community service work read like a resume? Your extensive real-world expertise in a specific subject or content area can equate to what you would learn in a college course. If this sounds like you, then you may be a good candidate for portfolio assessment.
7. You are passionate about a subject and can’t stop reading (or talking) about it.
Whether you are a Civil War buff, or you have read every how-to book on leadership ever published, the knowledge you developed from your independent study could help you pass an exam for credit instead of taking the course. Look through the College’s TECEP® offerings, its own credit-by exam program, and other exam programs, to find out if your passion can earn you college credit by simply taking a final exam.
8. You live for your art (or just really, really enjoy it).
If you are a writer, painter, actor, musician, photographer, performer, artisan, sculptor, dancer - essentially, the creative type - you probably have a portfolio of work that demonstrates your talent or skill. Your achievements, whether they are on CDs or DVDs, printed in playbills, painted on canvas or written as online reviews, are an excellent source that demonstrates your knowledge. Your latest project could be your ticket to earning college credit through portfolio assessment.
9. You are much sought-after master in your hobby field.
Are you a respected hobbyist in a specific field? Have you written published articles about your interests? If your recreational activities and knowledge have placed you in an esteemed position, or your peers are looking to learn from you, you probably already know what would be taught in a college course. The expertise and skills developed through your hobby are perfect for portfolio assessment.
10. You have trouble fitting all your experience, skills, knowledge and work into a 1- or 2-page resume.
Your extensive background is filled with significant responsibilities and accomplishments that may not fit into 1 or 2 pages, but will work great in a multi-page portfolio assessment. Identify your learning and experiences that best equate to a college course by utilizing the College’s PLA Course Description Database to earn credit for what you already know.
College-level knowledge doesn’t only come from a classroom. And neither does credit. Find out more ways you can earn college credit for what you already know, here.
Tags: Academic Credit , ACE , CLEP , credit-by-exam , DSST , Going Back to College , PLA , portfolio assessment , prior learning assessment , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Registrar , Studying at Thomas Edison State College , TECEP , tips and advice
October 03, 2013
Think long and hard on how you would answer this question:
Would you take the same course twice, if you didn’t have to?
Hopefully, you answered no. Or, even better, answered no way!
Then why not get maximum transfer credit towards your degree by applying a little extra effort?
There are several ways to ensure that you get the optimal amount of previously earned credit to fit into your curriculum so that you can quickly finish your college degree. As an invaluable planning tool, you’ll want your customized academic evaluation to be accurate the first time around to effectively assess which courses you have left to take. Education is never wasted, so here are some smart ways to get college credit for your hard-earned past efforts:
Ultimately, your goal is to leverage all that you bring to this endeavor, which validates the work you have completed and the expertise you have developed. Understanding how to transfer the maximum amount of credit can be a key to success.
Want to learn more about the many ways to earn credit for knowledge obtained in noncollegiate settings? Check out our Methods of Learning and Earning Credit section.
August 20, 2013
We all have different reasons for wanting to return to college. Perhaps it is a personal fulfillment, a message of resilience and determination, or a means to reach that illustrious promotion. Regardless of the purpose, the end goal is the same: you want to earn your degree. You want to finish what you started or take your achievement to the next level.
When it comes to going back to school, you’ve already leaped over the first hurdle. Motivation. That driving force will take you far. Yet, like any significant milestone in your life, you may have a few questions and concerns about returning to college. You have a busy life balancing personal and professional commitments, and we understand this need better than any other institution of higher learning in the world. So if you are thinking of returning to college, ask yourself these questions to assess and prepare for the commitment that will take you to the next level.
What should I expect? With flexible options, you can work towards your degree at your own pace. Depending on your work and personal commitments, you can slow the pace down or accelerate the amount of courses you take in your degree program. The length of time also varies and there are a few factors that can impact how many courses you need to take to complete your degree. One is how many credits you are able to transfer to your new school. Depending on the institution you select, you may also be able to earn credit for professional or military training, professional licenses and certifications that have been assessed for college credit, credit-by-exam programs (such as the College-Level Exam Program (CLEP)) or through portfolio assessment.
Many schools offer programs where there are no time limits on completing a degree and no classroom attendance is required, so pursuing a degree fits in with your life. Of course, taking courses online does not mean the degree program will be easy; the same expectations apply to online courses as they do in a traditional classroom setting. Remember that life does not stop because you are attending college. You must still meet the expectations of work, life and school, and understand any sacrifices you may need to take to meet your goals.
How much time and commitment must I devote? The length of time it takes you to complete your degree depends on the number of credits you bring to your degree program. These issues are determined during the evaluation that takes place after a prospective student applies to college. However many credits you choose to take in a year, recognize that your goals must be realistic. With certain professional and personal commitments, you may not be able to complete your degree in a year. Assess the amount of courses you can reasonably manage in your schedule and progressively move forward.
How can I best balance my school, professional and personal commitments? It all comes down to time management and creating a plan. Develop a routine in a structured environment by setting up certain dates and times to accomplish whatever you need to do. Once you find your niche – maybe an hour after the kids are in bed or a few hours on a Sunday morning – stick to it. Finding the balance between life, work and school will be your key to success.
What will I study? While you cannot choose ‘undecided’ during the application process, you can switch into any program. You are not married to the program noted on your application. Once you receive your academic evaluation, your academic advisor can discuss with you the requirements and help map out any degree program that interests you. Also, if you started a program 30 years ago, we can help you cultivate the same program regardless of our degree offerings.
What do I need to do to prepare? To familiarize yourself with the distance-learning format, you can take an entry-level online course at any community college for a similar experience. As you map out a degree plan, look at a variety of credit options that you feel comfortable with; maybe you prefer to learn in a discussion format rather than on your own, or taking tests comes easily to you. Research what materials you will need to go back to college. Most importantly, discuss with your family the type of commitment you are making – it will affect them all. An understanding, supportive family atmosphere will help you achieve your goal; a spouse helping with the dishes so you can finish writing a paper can feel like a miracle.
Recognizing the expectations required for going back to college will only help you as you navigate the tricky balance of work, school and life. Since no one is telling you to go do your homework, creating a structured environment and routine will help you cultivate the self-discipline necessary to achieve your goals. As you drive your own educational success, remember that, in all efforts “there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence and honest purpose, as well as perspiration.” A very true quote, stated by our namesake, Thomas Edison.
Featuring stories and information about Thomas Edison State College and going back to college as a busy adult.