Creating Submitting and Updating a Degree Plan

Degree Completion Strategy
At traditional schools, students identify only those "courses" for which they hope to register next semester. At Thomas Edison State College, students can utilize many credit-earning methods toward completion of a degree and can identify a potential list of courses/credits for later on, so we encourage students to think a bit more "long range" than the upcoming term.
What is a degree plan?
A completed Academic Evaluation will show you which of your previously earned credits apply to a degree, and where in the degree they apply. The Academic Evaluation will then also show where in the degree there are still required credits to be filled.

So a degree plan (sometimes referred to as a program plan) begins with an Academic Evaluation. It is a tool the College shares with you to help you identify the areas of credit you still need in order to complete a degree. You identify the credits you need, and select the methods of earning credit to fulfill each degree requirement. You submit information about your selection to the Advisement Center to get "approval" for the credits you wish to earn.

"Approval" is obtaining permission before you take the course. By doing that you get confirmation that the credits you are about to earn will apply to your degree.
Why should you create a degree plan? Why get courses preapproved?
By selecting potential credits ahead of time you are able to make a long-range plan. You are able to get that all important confirmation about what fits into your degree before you actually take it. Taking a course and THEN finding out that it won't help to finish your degree ? can be among the most unpleasant student experiences. The College wants to help you avoid that experience and the unnecessary expense.
When do you create a degree plan?
First, get potential credits approved by an advisor before you register for a course or exam. Once you obtain a few initial course approvals, you may register and begin those courses, then take some time to develop a list of the additional credits you propose to take for your degree. Once you submit the list, an advisor will review it, approve what will fit into the degree and respond to you with a note about your selections. This can be done at any time but the sooner you complete this step, the sooner you will feel like you know your next steps.
How do you create a degree plan?
After having reviewed your Academic Evaluation and after browsing the College Catalog or the website to see what courses are offered that fit your degree plan, submit a list of the potential credits you hope to earn and a degree plan will be created. You should also submit information about courses you plan to complete with other institutions. This can be submitted to the Office of Academic Advisement by U.S. Postal Service, fax or email. Once courses are approved on your degree plan, you can view this anytime on www.tesc.edu under "Online Student Services." Not only will it show those credits already completed but it will also show where the potential "planned" (PL) credits will eventually apply when completed.

Every slot in every degree is filled either by credit you have already earned or credit you can earn either through new learning, or through the assessment of prior learning. So every slot is potentially filled with the following methods of earning credit:
  • College-level courses taken through regionally accredited colleges or universities and transferred to Thomas Edison State College*
  • Examinations such as the CLEP, DANTES, Excelsior College, Ohio University, New York University Proficiency testing in Foreign Language
  • Examinations such as the Thomas Edison State College TECEP® exams, online, Guided Study or e-Pack® courses from Thomas Edison State College
  • Distance courses from any regionally accredited colleges and universities
  • Classroom courses from any regionally accredited colleges and universities
  • PLA (Portfolio Assessment) through Thomas Edison State College or other schools**
* PLA/portfolio credit done through institutions other than Thomas Edison State College needs to be reviewed for its transferability.
** Thomas Edison State College's Portfolio Assessment method cannot be used to earn credit for English Composition I and II.

Our student software uses the courses/credits you have in the ways that will help you. When you propose or "plan" credits, the software places them on the degree plan (Academic Evaluation) where they can be of the most value to you. Sometimes courses/credits shift to other sections within the degree because of their ability to apply in different places. It is not always important where credits fit - it is important that they do fit.

Although this academic evaluation or degree plan will show where credits apply, your official transcript only indicates what credits you have earned, but it will not indicate where in the degree credits were applied ? the Academic Evaluation looks nothing like the official transcript.
Degree Completion Strategy
You may plan a list of potential credits all at once or in increments. With the help of this Handbook and the College Catalog, it is possible for you to identify and select all the credits you will need to complete your degree. Most students do not plan that much in advance. Most students tend to submit a list of the next two, four, six or eight courses.
How do you update your degree plan? When? Why?
Our students are typically not 18, 19 or 20 years of age. Many of the College's students have college credits earned previously, so it is necessary for the College to evaluate these transfer credits toward the intended degree. This gives the student a point from which to begin the degree completion process. Credits are slotted to fulfill degree requirements and decisions are made about what kinds of credits can apply to slots not yet filled. This happens before you have registered for courses.

If you have had your credits evaluated, enrolled and submitted some potential credits to be approved and the College has given you approvals for courses to take at a later date; that means you have a list of potential credits to complete and you know they fit into your degree plan.

Perhaps when you prepare to register in the future you may see something on the degree plan that you had approved at one time, but now you no longer have interest in that subject. Tell an advisor to remove it from your plan; it is your degree and you make the decisions. You have the option to change your mind.

Decide what courses/credits you now want to have included in your plan so you can take them, or decide what you want the College to remove and what will replace it. Or, if you are unsure, discuss it with an advisor, who will help you to decide when you are ready.

Contact the Office of Academic Advisement via the contact information on the "Contacting Advising" tab. An advisor will review your information and respond to you.
For students who come to the College with no or few college credits
When there are no credits to evaluate the decisions made about potential credits is a considerably lower risk. To complete a degree you need everything so at the outset you cannot make a wrong choice - everything is potentially going to fit into your degree at this point. Choose the first few credits based on subjects that interest you. This should make your initial distance learning experience more interesting and enjoyable. Although we generally encourage students to have courses approved before they register, those with "zero" credits are in a position where everything taken can apply someplace within a degree. Once you register for your first term, during that term you will then want to confer with an advisor and make a plan that extends a little further into the future.
For students who transfer in a very large number of credits
The more credits you transfer, the more you want to be certain of the remaining credits you should earn to complete your degree. Before you register, please schedule time with an advisor to discuss your selections and ensure that the decisions you make are appropriate for your degree.
Degree Completion options through other institutions
Several degree programs actually require specific credits that are not offered through Thomas Edison State College as courses. In these instances students can take courses from other institutions and transfer them to Thomas Edison State College.

Many regionally accredited institutions now offer distance or online courses. If you are considering taking a course through another school, you will want to have it preapproved by an advisor to ensure that the selection is appropriate for your degree.

For some, these credits can be earned through the Portfolio Assessment method if you already have the college-level knowledge in the subject.
Bachelor's to Master's
The Bachelor's to Master's Program at Thomas Edison State College allows you to earn credits that would apply to your bachelor's degree AND toward a graduate degree at the same time. The Bachelor's to Master's Program, allows you to take up to 9 graduate credits (three graduate courses) that can apply to both your bachelor's and your master's degree.

Your ability to take advantage of this will greatly depend on what credits you have already completed and had applied to your degree, and what graduate course credits are available to you. Students must have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 and a minimum of 60 credits must have been completed toward your undergraduate degree before you apply to a graduate program. Students accepted into the program will be conditionally admitted to the graduate program of their choice, but will not be eligible to take their first graduate course at the undergraduate tuition rate until they have completed 90 credits with an overall Thomas Edison State College GPA of 3.0. Consult with an academic advisor to obtain more specific information about this option.