WHICH COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY?
Many if not most
colleges and universities in the U.S. accept credit earned, or will
themselves award credit for, proficiency exams. However, most limit as a
proportion of the total required for a degree, how much of that
credit can be culled from standardized examinations.
There are three
institutions that will accept 100% of credits required for a degree, from
proficiency exams. These are:
Charter Oak State College (COSC)
Excelsior College (formerly Regents College, University of the
State of New york)
Thomas Edison State College (TESC)
These three are known
as assessment institutions, since they can be used to collect and collate
credit from disparate origins. When enough credit of the correct type and
in the correct proportions has been earned, these institutions will then
award the student an accredited bachelor degree that will enjoy wide
recognition in the United
Which of the three colleges should I choose?
A number of factors should be considered before that
decision is made.
1. COSC and TESC are state funded,
Excelsior is not. If money is tight, COSC and TESC can sup at the public
trough but Excelsior cannot.
2. Both COSC and TESC evaluate portfolio
credit. Excelsior accepts portfolio credit but does not evaluate it, that
is done elsewhere.
3. Excelsior has a very comprehensive
and easily accessible online library of catalogs, sample test papers, and
other student related reference documents.These make life much easier for
self-starters to act as their own best advisor. This is a big factor in
favor of Excelsior in my opinion.
4. Excelsior awards letter grades (from
which GPA may be calculated) for proficiency exams, TESC does not.
COSC say that they do, but decline to
provide details of the required threshold scores. COSC do letter
grade some exams, but not ECE/Regents or CBT CLEP. Yes, the grades
will be used in calculating GPA for the purposes of awarding honors, but
no GPA will appear on the transcript (we knew that - but it wont stop
graduate schools calculating GPA). No, they wont tell you how they arrive
at those letter grades.
If COSC letter grades exams, the
required scores necessary to achieve those grades should and must
be listed, if fair play is to be assured and equal treatment made
transparent. Excelsior has managed to do this without much
complaint or dispute since the letter grading system was introduced there
in 1996 (at the then Regents College).
Some believe that a
GPA is unnecessary for grad school. I would and have argued strongly to the
contrary. Most graduate schools and most graduate programs require some
minimum GPA (usually 3.00 for the last 60 hours of credit). It may be a
candidate will be accepted into a particular graduate program without a
GPA, but he may not. Not having a bachelor degree with a GPA would likely
reduce one's options down the road. Excelsior College and COSC are the two
of the three assessment institutions that letter grade proficiency
The foregoing is a
double edged sword, of course. If you're scoring "C"s in the
exams, that fact might be best left unrecorded by opting for a college that
only awards pass/fail grades.
5. Excelsior awards
generous credit for a good pass in GRE subject exams. COSC awards less
generous credit in GRE subject exams but accepts a mediocre pass score.
TESC awards no credit for GRE subject exams.
6. Name matters. State
institutions such as COSC or TESC may find greater acceptance than
Excelsior. Some feel more assured by a state college. Some feel the name
"Excelsior" leaves much to be desired. I think it sucks. See: The College Name Game
Then can I delay a
decision on a school and just test out first? And what about credit
Yes, you can take
exams and apply for credit later, or you can bank the credit right away
with Excelsior College. There are a few things to consider before choosing
this option too. These are discussed in the next.