Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lowering the cost of a college degree: Charter Oak expands exam-for-credit offerings

We recently made the following announcement:

Charter Oak State College has partnered with the non-profit Excelsior College to expand credit-by-examination options for Charter Oak students.  Through an agreement reached with Excelsior College, Charter Oak will offer registration for Excelsior College Examinations on its website CharterOak.edu.  Students who register for exams will take them at a secure Pearson VUE testing center (www.pearsonvue.com).   Students can review the new exam offerings and register online at www.CharterOak.edu/examreg.

What this means is that we are working to expand the available tests that our students can take for credit.  Testing for credit is the lowest-cost approach to building your transcript.  It is possible to meet every Charter Oak requirement—except the Cornerstone and the Capstone courses—through testing.  We have even had students who accomplished their entire bachelor’s degree this way.  The key point here is that a test costs on average $150, which is approximately $600 LESS than a course.

The process for taking a test is very simple.  For the Excelsior exams, you sign up and purchase their test preparation packet.  This set of materials contains exactly what you need to know to pass the test.  It also includes sample questions so you can prepare for the type of test you will be taking.  When you feel you are ready, you sign up for the test itself, schedule at a test center near you, and take the exam in a proctored setting (which just means you are supervised as you take the test). The other national credit-by-exam organizations have similar processes.

That’s it.  Just choose a subject, register, purchase the test preparations materials, study at your own pace, and then take the test.

Yes, I know that most of our adult students hate tests.  But we also know that most of you get A’s and B’s in all your courses.  In other words, you are all good test-takers.  So here’s my proposition: try one.  It’s a $150 investment.  If you hate it, then you never have to do another one.  But if you pass the test, think of all the money and time you can save by testing for credit.  I am not imagining that you will do your whole degree this way, but if you did even five tests, that would be a savings of $3,000.  And that is real money.

America is looking for a way to lower the cost of a college education, and Charter Oak is committed to providing the solution.  I am traveling to Washington, D.C. every month trying to get federal financial aid extended to include testing (and portfolios as well).  Together we can show America the way.

If you decide to pursue taking an exam for credit, I would be interested in hearing about your experience here, or feel free to email me at eklonoski@charteroak.edu.