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!
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November 29, 2012
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
TECEP® exams and other credit-by-exam programs are the most efficient way for Thomas Edison State College students to earn credit. If you have some prior knowledge or experience in a subject area and think you are an independent learner, you might be a good candidate for this credit-by-exam method of course completion. And you can feel confident that TECEP® exams will fulfill your degree requirements, just like the College’s online courses.
The best thing about earning credit this way is the ease and flexibility of the process. You do not need to follow a rigid course schedule, prepare assignments by due dates or participate in online discussions. All you need to do is show up on a test date, which you select, and (of course) be prepared to take a comprehensive final exam.
Another appealing feature of testing is the grading system. Credit-by-exam grades are pass/fail only and do not affect your grade point average. Because of this, you only need to demonstrate that you know the subject matter to earn the credit.
So why don't all students decide to earn credit through testing?
There's one big reason: not everyone can successfully work in an unstructured environment. 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. There are no deadlines and there is no mentor to answer your questions or provide feedback. This approach is exactly what appeals to many busy adult students who have competing demands on their time and who prefer to work independently without any interactions with a mentor or other students.
Does this sound like you? If you think you can establish and follow your own study preparation schedule, you should consider "testing out" and try the credit-by-exam method of earning college credit.
TECEP® is the College’s own testing program. The exams are developed by the College’s mentors in order to help our students fulfill their degree requirements.
Students can earn credit using several other credit-by-exam programs available, such as the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DSST exams. Learn more about TECEP® and other credit-by-exam programs accepted at Thomas Edison State College.
In my next post, we’ll discuss how to prepare for and take TECEP® exams.
Featuring stories and information about Thomas Edison State College and going back to college as a busy adult.