October 29, 2013
Transitioning from a teenager to an adult is never easy. Compound the pressures and demands of time, family and jobs, financial resources and an inadequate preparation for the amount of academic work. Perhaps then it doesn’t seem so unbelievable that nearly half of the students who began college at a traditional four-year institution at 18-years-old didn’t graduate. Sound familiar?
Missteps happen. Life intervenes. However, now you are older, wiser, and more experienced in the world. You fully understand the importance of an education, and feel you are ready and motivated to finish the degree you started all those years ago. But, like with any new endeavor, you are anxious. This time, you want to succeed and earn your degree. Today, adult learners like you have more resources and tools available to help you reach your goal that go way beyond online courses and taking classes at night or on weekends. As you begin the road to your degree, consider these five tips to help ensure that you find success:
Pursue a passion. Select an area of study that interests you. What you learn should be your choice, as it is a reflection of you. If you are passionate about what you are learning, your curiosity and fascination will likely give you more drive you to succeed. Learning is not about getting the highest grade or score on an exam. As you progress in your career, no one will ever ask you for a report card. But they will assess your motivation and ambition. The best way to develop these qualities is to love what you do.
Set goals and accomplish them. Envision your goal, finishing your degree, and keep working towards it. Even if it takes one step at a time. “Each day, each class, you’re closer to your goal,” posted Linda Wells on Facebook. “Once you get there, no one can take it away. Do it!” Every step, no matter how small, will eventually take you to where you need to be. “Just begin. Take the first step. Time is your friend, not your enemy,” posted Michael Burns on LinkedIn. “Right now you just need to focus on the beginning, not the end. At a later point in time, when you look up, you will see that you have completed more classes than you have remaining. At that point you will be inspired…. You will know that you will finish.”
Recognize your time commitments to school, work and family. Assess your obligations and realize how you will be able to fit school in. You might do well at a college that understands your commitment to family and career, and offers flexibility offers flexibility for motivated adult learners through programs that do not require traditional classroom attendance. “It first takes determination and desire,” posted Robert Scott Gardner on LinkedIn. “Make a schedule and stick to it!” Also, consider schools that accept a wide variety of transfer credits and those that let you take a break from course work for personal or professional reasons without any academic or financial penalties.
Understand the resources available to you. At this point in your life, you should have realized the type of learner you are. Think about your needs as a busy adult. Do you prefer interaction with other classmates or would you rather work independently? Does the program work around your schedule? What course formats and learning options are available, in addition to a traditional classroom setting? As an adult learner, there are many more course options to choose from that not only fit into your lifestyle, but also your learning style.
Also, 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 that can be applied as college transfer credit toward a degree. Will the school you are considering accept previously earned credits from other institutions? How many credits will you have to repeat?
There are a variety of ways to earn college credit that do not require sitting in a classroom or even taking a formal course. If you already possess specialized expertise, you may be able to earn additional credit for demonstrating you possess that college-level knowledge. You may also be able to earn credit for any licenses and certificates, or training programs you completed through your profession. Before you select a school, ask the admissions office what prior learning assessment programs they offer.
Talk to your family. Sit down and discuss with your family why you are pursuing this goal, and why it is important to you. Make sure they realize the commitment you are making and the potential role they can play in helping you. Their encouragement can prove essential as you complete your degree. “Surround yourself with a good support system, “ posted Mark De Luca on Facebook. “So you have others helping you get through the times when you think you [want to] give up!” Discuss with your family what you are learning. Including your family in this facet of your life will help strengthen the support system you have.
And remember, that when you finally do earn that degree, you will have received a lot more than a piece of paper that hangs on a wall. “Keep in mind that when you take risks, go outside your comfort zone,” Aura Rose posted on Facebook. “Wonderful things start to happen – horizons expand [and] the world opens for you.” For Wayne Sos, “Going back to school not only improved my critical thinking and earned me a degree,” he posted on LinkedIn. “It also set an example for my children that focus, commitment, and goals are needed to improve your life.”
There is always time and opportunity to try again. After all, it took Thomas Edison 10,000 tries to come up with a light bulb that worked. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up,” said Edison. “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” And he will always be right.
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.
September 03, 2013
By Todd Siben
Assistant Director of Portfolio Assessment
Unsure if you possess enough knowledge to earn college credit? Think again.
Do you have a background playing the piano, or are you accomplished in another instrument like guitar or trumpet?
Do you teach pre-school or a daycare provider?
Do you have experience in the marketing or communications field?
Do you work in law enforcement in New Jersey or attended one of the police academies?
Do you have a business background in accounting, finance, management, marketing or another area of business?
Do you identify yourself as a computer geek with knowledge of programming, systems design, network design or website design?
Do you have volunteer or career experience in a “helping” profession such as a teacher, counselor or some other form of human interaction and support?
Do you have skills in public speaking, presentations, non-verbal communication, small group discussion or dynamic one-to-one communication?
Do you have military training that has or has not been recommended for credit by your training school?
Whether these specific examples apply to you or not, chances are, as an adult, you have acquired additional knowledge through work and other experiences. And that understanding can potentially help you to earn college credit through creating a portfolio.
You’ve heard the term used in a few contexts. Artists keep a portfolio of their work in a carrying case, financial advisors help clients build a portfolio of stocks and assorted investments and job hunters present a portfolio to a perspective employer highlighting their background, competencies and accomplishments. At Thomas Edison, students can develop a portfolio to earn credit for the college-level knowledge they have obtained through work, the military, hobbies, or some kind of training.
Now, to guide students through the process of documenting prior learning, and save time and money, are two new courses: PLA-100: Intro to Prior Learning Assessment and PLA-200: Intro to Portfolio Development. These courses help you identify your competencies, college-level knowledge and background, all while teaching portfolio development skills.
PLA-100 is a 1-credit, 4-week course that will take you through all the options offered through the College for earning credit for what you already know: portfolio development, testing, program review, licenses, certificates, and more. The course also helps you understand what college-level learning means, and how to determine whether PLA options fit your own goals and experience. PLA-100 carries General Education Elective credit in the Intellectual and Practical Skills (IPSL) category, which is already required for your degree. Intended as a continuation of PLA-100, PLA-200 is a 2-credit, 8-week course that will help you identify the specific courses for which you can earn credit, and get you moving on the path to creating your own portfolio. PLA-200 provides structure and support to help you document your experiences and develop a narrative that aligns with the learning outcomes of a similar course. Along the way, your PLA-200 mentor and the Office of Portfolio Assessment will answer your questions, provide you with the learning outcomes for the subjects you want to earn credit for, and guide your progress so that you can maximize the number of credits you can earn through PLA. As with PLA-100, PLA-200 also meets IPSL General Education Elective requirements. The resulting portfolios are submitted for review by Subject Matter Experts to award credit.
Upon successful completion of the PLA-100/200 courses you will have gone through a reflective process, identified and organized your personal and professional competencies in one place, and acquired or refined your skills in the area of narrative writing and organizing. You may have also identified some or many areas of competence where you can develop and submit a portfolio for assessment, as long as the potential credits will apply to your degree program needs. Nearly every degree requirement can be satisfied with credit based on prior learning.
At the end of the day, this is knowledge that you already have, and you will determine how it can work for you:
Save you time? Check.
Save you money? Check.
Fulfill program requirements? Check.
Help you earn additional college credit? Double check.
August 05, 2013
Close your eyes and picture a course that has no guide or textbook to help you study, because all the material you needed to know – you already knew. All the life and work experiences you needed to understand – you already did. There are no tests or quizzes, and at the end, you earn college credit…. Sounds like a dream course, a fantasy we all drum up when work, life and school blur together into one seemingly endless challenge.
Except it isn’t. This dream that you dare to dream, is really true; it exists and it’s real.
That’s the idea behind Portfolio Assessment (previously known as Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) at Thomas Edison State College). Like many of our students, you may be surprised to find that you already have knowledge in multiple subject areas from a lifetime of learning that can be applied toward your degree. That college-level knowledge acquired outside the traditional college classroom is valuable because it may be your ticket to earning college credit.
With our new accelerated PLA-100 and PLA-200 courses, (1- and 2-credit courses, respectively) you will learn how to develop a portfolio to potentially earn credit for the college-level knowledge you have, equivalent to what would have been learned in a comparable college course. The difference is that your learning took place as a result of employment, independent study, training programs, volunteer services, cultural pursuits, hobbies, study abroad, and much, much more – so if you can earn credit for any of that, it’s a no-brainer!
To get started, first assess if you are a good candidate for portfolio assessment. As a working adult, chances are you have several areas to draw from. Until you learn how it’s done, building a portfolio can seem like a daunting task. Once you learn how, the benefits can help you in academic, professional and personal ways for a lifetime. Here’s why:
Academic. To learn how to build your portfolio, you take our accelerated PLA-100 and PLA-200 courses, a course sequence that helps you through the process of documenting your learning. These are credit courses, so you get credits for learning how you are going to get credits! These courses guide you as you create one or multiple portfolios; the average Thomas Edison State College student ends up earning around 12 additional credits through the portfolio process, and you could earn even more than that. (BONUS: An added benefit is the new cost structure for portfolio assessment, which could save you money. Click here for more information.)
Personal. Every day we are bombarded with information, and are constantly absorbing information through a mix of venues; we are internalizing a huge bank of learning. So how can you assess what is college-level knowledge? In creating a portfolio, you go through a significant amount of self-reflection and introspection to identify what you know as a result of your learning and experiences. As you review your competencies, knowledge and background, you may identify other areas of expertise you never thought about.
Professional. Your background is extensive, so wouldn’t it be incredible to show it off in one, well-organized place? Building a portfolio will help you develop lifelong learning skills that are great for your career, particularly as it can help you define a specific role, position or job description. A portfolio can also showcase your capabilities and accomplishments to a potential or current employer through your collection of evidence and detailed explanations of what it all means. A professional portfolio can add breadth and depth to your resume and your job search.
More than a course or a method for earning credit, Portfolio Assessment is a process that will benefit you as you navigate the new future you are building for yourself. As a Thomas Edison student, you already have the drive and determination to accomplish your goals, and you may already have the college-level knowledge it takes to get there.
Like Glinda says at the end of The Wizard of Oz, “ you’ve always had the power.” You just need to tap into it.
June 18, 2013
Jennifer L. Stark, Assistant Director of Academic Records and Registration
By Jennifer L. Stark
Assistant Director of Academic Records and Registration
Once you have submitted your Application for Admission and arranged to have your official transcripts sent to the College or are newly enrolled, you may need some guidance on the next stages. Just getting started can be the toughest part, but the Thomas Edison State College staff are here every step of the way to offer the support and flexibility you need to complete your degree program.
Once you have applied or enrolled, here’s what to expect next:
Once you have selected your courses, you can register for them anytime via Online Student Services, by phone: (609) 633-9242 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. EST or via fax: (609) 292-1657. The staff at Thomas Edison State College strives to put our students first. We focus our programs, procedures and academic mission on the needs of self-directed adults like you and we are here to provide as much assistance as you need to successfully attain your educational goals.
Featuring stories and information about Thomas Edison State College and going back to college as a busy adult.