In order to be your best self, it’s important that your mind and your body be well-developed. Having a job where you earn a good salary can provide you opportunities that others are denied – including being able to pay for training courses, equipment and material and other things you need for your survival.
One way in which you can increase your earning power is by earning your Bachelor’s degree. In 2009 only 20% of Americans had completed their Bachelor’s degree, with the average student having over $25,000 in student loan debt.
The cost of attaining an education can be off-putting for many, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a variety of ways in which you can speed up your earning of a degree.
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Bachelor’s degrees come in two flavours: a 3-year degree that usually requires 90 credits (30 three-credit courses) and a 4-year Honours degree that usually requires 120 credits (40 three-credit courses.) An Associate’s degree is usually 2-years in length and/or 60-credits.
College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) allows you to take exams inexpensively that cover content that you have learned. Many schools accept CLEP courses, which cover subjects like:
- English Literature
- French Language, Levels 1 and 2
- History of the United States
- Introduction to Psychology
- Principles of Microeconomics
- Financial Accounting
And a variety of other subjects. These courses make up the first two years of your education, and are much cheaper than taking the courses themselves. For instance, a CLEP exam costs $85, plus the cost of the testing centre (which might be $0-100.) $185 is much cheaper than a similar college courses which could be as much as $1,000 per course.
Transfer credit involves completing an Associates degree at a brick-and-mortar community college where it exists at an inexpensive price. For instance, New York State provides an Excelsior Scholarship to allow individuals to earn a 2-year degree for free. Once you have earned that degree, you can transfer to another institution (whether online or in-person) for much less tuition.
At Athabasca University, up to 2 years of transfer credit may be earned for a relevant diploma or Associates degree.
Prior Learning and Recognition (PLAR)
Some universities provide Prior Learning and Recognition (PLAR) programs. PLAR allows you to submit a portfolio of learning on a specific topic related to work you have done in order to receive credit for it. As an example, if you are working at an IT Help Desk, you might be able to receive credit for courses like:
- Introduction to Computing and Information Systems
- Microcomputer Applications in Business (Windows)
- Information Seeking and Society in the Information Age
- Operating Systems
These make up 4 of the 8 core courses required for the Bachelor of Science in Information Systems from Athabasca University.
Challenge exams are a way of self-studying material in order to take an exam and earn credits towards your degree. For instance, at Athabasca you can register for a Challenge Exam for a course that you have self-studied for. You will be provided access to the course material (everything except the textbook) and be allowed to self-study.
Once you write the exam, whatever grade you get on the exam will be entered onto your transcript. So, if you score an 81 on the exam you will receive that grade on your transcript as if you had taken the course yourself. The fee for a challenge exam is much less than that of an actual course.
Is your degree in progress? Have you discovered other techniques? Share them in the comments!