Choosing a college






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 States.        







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 examinations.


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 banking?


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.









Lawrie Miller 1997-2004 

no reproduction without permission