Credit-by-Exam: Colleges’ Best Kept Secret

Posted Tuesday, 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.

Two of the most popular credit-by-exam programs in the U.S. are the College-Level Exam Program (CLEP exams) and DSST exams, while the College offers TECEP®, its own credit-by exam program.

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.

Tags: Credit by Exam , Majors and Degree Programs , Transfer Credits

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10 Signs You Have More College-Level Knowledge Than You Think

Posted Tuesday, 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: Credit by Exam , Going Back to College , Military , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Student Services , Transfer Credits , Veterans

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The Gold is Not Enough: Famous Olympic Athletes That Went Back to College

Posted Friday, February 07, 2014

Tonight’s opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi will officially kick start 17 days of competitions among 85 nations, with an estimated 3 billion people around the world projected to watch the Sochi Games. The U.S Olympic Team is bringing 230 athletes, consisting of 106 returning Olympians and including 13 Olympic champions. There will be winners and missed chances, dreams achieved and dreams crushed. But regardless of the rank, score or place of these athletes, they will dazzle us with their talent and determination.

But where do they go when they have reached the pinnacle of their training, when the luster of a gold, silver or bronze medal wears off? Only upwards and onwards to their next goal; the pursuit of a college degree. Check out below which U.S. Olympians just didn’t quit, whether it’s on the ice, the uneven bars or the classroom.

Venus Williams
Considered one of the all-time greatest players in women’s tennis, only outranked by younger sister Serena, Venus Williams grand slammed her way to four gold medals in the 2000, 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic games. But she doesn’t rest on past laurels, or titles; in 2007 Williams received an associate’s degree in Fashion Design, and in 2011, enrolled in an online program to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business. A self-proclaimed long-time lover of learning, she’s stated that her ultimate goal is to earn an MBA degree in the next four years.


Michelle Kwan
Considered one of the greatest figure skaters of all time, Michelle Kwan won a silver medal and a bronze medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, respectively. In pursuit of a college degree since 1998, Kwan graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a minor in political science. She then went on to pursue a master’s degree in international relations, graduating in 2011.


Kerri Strugg
Well known for her dramatic performance with an injured ankle and subsequently carried to the podium to receive her medal, Kerri Strugg won the gold that year in women’s gymnastics at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Shortly after, Strugg announced her retirement from the sport, earned her bachelor’s degree and received a master’s degree in sociology.

Sarah Hughes
Appearing only in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, Sarah Hughes did walk away with a gold medal in women’s figure skating. A year later, in 2003, she enrolled in college and graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in American studies.

Jackie Joyner-Kersey
She may have begun her studies as a traditional college student from 1980-1985, but Joyner-Kersey took a year off to train for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics in the heptathlon. After winning the silver medal that year, she returned to finish her undergrad degree, going on to receive several more medals at four different Olympic games to become one of the greatest female athletes of all-time.

Apolo Anton Ohno
Emerging as a superstar Olympian in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, Apolo Anton Ohno won his first gold medal that year at just 20 years old. Since then, he has received seven more medals to become the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete of all time, while going on to earn a business degree.

Tags: Going Back to College , Majors and Degree Programs , Motivation

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