Many of us are searching for a way to finish college in an efficient and inexpensive manner. While you can’t buy college credits, it is very possible to get 60 college credits very quickly. Perhaps we started and never finished due to finances, the stress of a full-time job, or because we had children. Our time is valuable and “free time” is something that is probably not in your daily routine. Like myself, you may even feel like you have all of this knowledge and wish you could use it toward a degree.
Doing a quick search online you will see hundreds of sites offering credits for “real life experience.” When something sounds too good to be true it usually is. Upon further research of these “colleges”, you will notice that almost none of them are accredited and they simply want you to buy the degree of your choice. You might as well save yourself the $400 to $1200 that these sites are asking and make your own degree on your home computer because they hold just about the same credibility.
The first way you can earn credit is through CLEP testing. CLEP, also known as the College-Level Examination Program, has approximately 33 tests you can choose from. The tests range from your basic introductory courses to the more advanced. Depending on the test you decide to take you can earn anywhere from 3 to 12 credits. Each test cost just under $80 dollars.
Through much research and my own personal experience, I was successful at finding a few reputable colleges offering legitimate credit for “real life experience.” Excelsior College in New York offers both online and residential options for you to obtain credit for your own personal experiences. You can obtain these through portfolio submissions or through testing; Excelsior College Examinations. However, Excelsior can get quite costly, with a high price tag on each individual credit you seek. Personally, I decided it was in my best interest to obtain my credit elsewhere and then apply it to an Excelsior degree. Since Excelsior College does not have any minimum credit requirements this would be doable for anyone and potentially can save you hundreds of dollars.
Another reputable college I found was Thomas Edison State College. With this college, you can transfer credit that you previously earned at other colleges or earn credit through your professional license. Any type of license, from nursing to real estate, is eligible for review. Thomas Edison State College also allows you to take independent courses to work toward your degree. To get even closer to your degree you can take subject matter tests (those similar to the CLEP tests). Demonstrating your ability within a subject by completing a prior learning assessment is also available.
Empire State College in New York is another college that offers you credit for life experiences. With Empire, you only pay a flat fee of $300 (once enrolled) and then you are allowed to submit an evaluation for up to 96 credits. You need to keep in mind that just because you have taken a specific course, or because you have been a manager for the last 20 years, that does not entitle you to college-level credits. You need to prove through your writing that you have obtained college-level learning and skills. Once you submit your CBE (credit by evaluation) portfolio it will be reviewed by a member of Empire State College. A professional in the area you are seeking credit will personally contact you; either in person or over the phone you will have an interview to determine exactly what you know. This professional is the one that recommends how much credit you actually should receive if any. Do not let the process scare you. It may be long, but it is really a great way to obtain credit and advance yourself that much closer to your college degree.
Make the most out of your education. Be granted the credit you deserve. I personally have combined many of these routes to form my final destination. I have earned credit through the traditional classroom setting (63 credits), through the CLEP testing system (12 credits), I have gone to Empire, and now I am in the processes of rolling everything into a degree at Excelsior. Each college holds something different for each individual, you just have to find one that is most suited to your own needs.