Big 3 AA/AS to B&M BA/BS

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by bceagles, Mar 28, 2019.

  1. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    I’m forever “angling” when it comes to the Big 3. As someone who is thrilled with their experience earning a BS from Excelsior College, I also find myself bracing for the “What’s Excelsior College” line of questioning.

    I’m early in the game, but I’m starting to put together a rough outline of how my kids could benefit from the Big 3 and CLEP/DSST/AP/and all the more recent testing out options.

    I keep going back and forth between:

    “OK, by the end of Senior Year of High school I want my kids to have completed 10 CLEP exams (roughly 30 credits) and enter their college career 2 semesters (a year) ahead of schedule”


    “I want my kids to have a BS/BA from one of the Big 3 within 12 months of graduating High School, this way they can be done grad school when everyone else in their peer group is getting undergraduate degrees”


    “During the normal college semester, have my kids take the minimum credit load and spend their extra time taking CLEPs”


    “Just leave them alone to go the traditional route and take 4-5 years to graduate but get the full experience”

    The other option I’m trying to get feedback on is:

    “Try to get an associates degree from one of the Big 3 ASAP and transfer into the 4 year B&M school as a Junior that they want on their resume”

    The benefits of this approach would/could be:

    • Cost
    • Accelerated degree time
    • Not having to worry about name recognition of the Big 3, you don’t have to list your Associates degree on your resume if you have a 4 year degree
    • Still able to get some level of the college experience while also utilizing the advantages of testing out with the Big 3

    Is it safe to assume that transferring in to a fair number of B&M schools as a Junior from the Big 3 is realistic? I’m not sure if 2+2 agreements exist with the Big 3 as the Associates degree part of the equation.
  2. Marcus Aurelius

    Marcus Aurelius Active Member

    Not having to worry about name recognition of the Big 3

    There are over 3,000 four-year colleges and universities in the US. Most of them don't have any name recognition at all.

    Excelsior College is a rather unconventional name for a school. If a person graduated from Thomas Edison State University or Charter Oak State College, however, 99.9% of people won't know that these are unique assessment schools. They will just blend in with all of the other hundreds of nondescript (but otherwise perfectly fine) schools that dot the map. The key with these two schools is State University and State College. They don't raise any eyebrows.

    If you're concerned about name recognition, then earn a degree from one of the Big 3 and then earn a grad degree from a school with some name recognition.
    JBjunior, sanantone and SteveFoerster like this.
  3. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    And, graduate degrees, due to the fewer credits required, are much cheaper. Your kids could attend a pretty good school online or on campus for less than $20,000. There are even online computer science programs at Top 10 schools for less than $10k.
  4. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    I don’t disagree and appreciate the reminder.

    TESU does have the advantage of sounding the most traditional / looking the most traditional on a resume.

    The tone has been, especially when it comes to younger students “testing out” and utilizing The Big Three, is that it cheapens the education experience when testing out.

    I’ve opened my eyes recently to the potential value of some of the intangibles of the traditional path to an undergraduate degree, making “college friends”, social experiences, professor mentors, collegiate sports (spectator and participant), etc. Prior I was more focused on just getting any degree as fast and easy as possible, from any RA college.

    That being said, I’m just working out all the possible approaches to consider.
  5. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    What do your kids want, and what do they value? I'm the type of person who couldn't care less about the "college experience," but I'm an introvert, and we're in the minority in a very extroverted country. Some people regret not having had a traditional college experience.
    JBjunior likes this.
  6. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    I agree 100% here. If it makes sense for the student, every student is different, you could possibly make the follow case:

    Test out of the vast majority of an undergraduate degree via one of The Big 3 = about 18 months at a cost of $10k or so

    Enroll in a decent tier 2 grad school program = about 2.5 years at a cost of let's say $30k

    4 years or less $40k or less, undergraduate and graduate degree

    This sounds so much more manageable than the $150k in student loans for a useless (in the job market) degree that we keep reading about.

    It also "buries" the Big 3 degree under a B&M Grad School degree on a resume if that's a concern. I bring this up because it was part of my grad school motivation.
  7. AsianStew

    AsianStew Active Member

    How young are your kids and are they homeschooled? My sister and I have our kids in a French Immersion program. However, we also homeschool them as well. What we're trying to do is accelerate and compact their education, giving them time to learn at the school and time at home to review/preview other school work and let them work at their own pace...

    With AP/CLEP and other ACE/NCCRS programs available to High School students, it allows them to excel at their own pace, we are hoping our kids get at least 90 credits or more by the time the they are in the 11th grade and finish their degree at the same time they graduate high school. It's acheivable by pre-planning everything accordingly. I think we're aiming at getting the Associates and Bachelors at TESU but COSC is a very close second choice.

    We're doing something similar to what this parent has done already and countless others have done the same thing in recent years. Here's an example on Cookderosa's blog, there are other examples on the Yahoo groups I subscribe to as well - youth at 18 getting their Bachelors! Link:
  8. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    An extremely small percentage of undergraduate students accumulate more than $100k in debt. Most don't even accumulate $50k in debt. The average is around $30k, but that's being pushed up by outliers on the high end.
  9. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    The media is absolutely blowing this out of proportion too. Here are the quick stats / facts:

    I’m assuming most of the student loan debt referenced in this data is linked to undergraduate degrees. I’m also assuming that some of the student loan dollars are not full financial, so this data doesn’t represent total cost.

    The Big 3 coupled with a moderately priced grad degree is still a huge cost savings worth considering.
  10. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    My oldest is only in 6th grade, so we still have plenty of time to figure things out. We have no idea what he wants to do or should consider doing at this point, obviously.

    But what we do know is that the first 2 years of college look similar (gen ed requirements across a lot of different programs generally overlap) in a lot of different scenarios. English Comp, Psychology, Sociology, Econ, College Algebra, etc. all typically fit into the first 2 years. I know that it could vary by program and that nothing is “Universal”, but there is a good chance that 1) CLEPs will be accepted in some capacity at more B&M schools than not and 2). These typical CLEP subjects can be tested out of.

    I’ve historically been in the “Everyone should completely test out of undergraduate, without exception” camp. Recently i’ve changed my view and placed some value on the college experience and being a part of a B&M program.

    I’m trying to put together, on paper hypothetically, a beneficial combination of the 2 (testing out vs traditional classroom) for younger students. For adult students past the typical college age, I will most likely favor completely testing out.

    At this point, I’m of the opinion that at a minimum i’d like to see my kids CLEP/AP out of the typical 30 credits that most B&M schools will accept. This potentially shaves about a year off of a program and about 25% off of total cost. The argument can be made that if these subject are not associated with your major and/or you don’t have any personal interest in the subject, you probably aren’t misssing out on much if you test out. Yes, the case can be made that you miss out on the intangibles by cramming and testing vs going thru the classroom experience, but it’s potentially a lower risk at the 101 and 201 levels. In my opinion of course, feel free to chime in. My perspective has been changed on this recently and I’m open to the discussion.
  11. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Yeah, the median is only $17k because medians aren't skewed by outliers like averages are. But, testing out of courses can save a person even more money.
  12. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    I believe it relies a lot on your kids. Some really need that 4 years on their own to develop their socialization skills, independence and push themselves instead of being pushed. So I'm more of a case by case basis parent. A good middle ground would be to knock out an associates by the end of high school and then transfer into State U where they could get the aforementioned experience. And if said State U is the same place they'd have chosen for a grad degree, well then so much the better economically. In my case, it was the living expenses more so than the tuition, that ate up the most money.
  13. JBjunior

    JBjunior Active Member

    Our kids are roughly the same age and I plan to do something similar regarding college for them when in high school. As a career military member I know there is no better way to build real life social skills than having a job that requires immersion, that you can't run away from, that you can't choose your coworkers, and you have to adapt and overcome challenges. I won't force my children to follow my path but if they want the traditional college experience three years in the military ensures a full ride to the college of their choice.
  14. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    I’m a fan of this approach. We know the “Pros” of this situation, improved cost and less time invested.

    The “cons” that I’m trying to work out for these types of scenarios are peer group related

    18 year old student in Junior Level classes with 20 year olds, might not be a good social fit. They could potentially miss out social experiences with their age group.

    Might not be a big deal, but a consideration for sure.

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