Need Bachelors in 6 Months - Options?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Nodaclu, Apr 18, 2016.

  1. Nodaclu

    Nodaclu New Member

    Hi all,

    I find myself in a bit of a unique situation, so I thought I'd ask the advice of the collective.

    I have spent most of the past 17 years in HR, mostly with smaller companies, mostly as a Generalist and Analyst. I finish a short term contract at Intel in 2 weeks, and for the first time in many years, I will find myself unemployed.

    I've been trying to find a permanent job for 7 months, and in that time, the only offer I've had was for less money than I made in 2011. This seems to be due to my lack of a degree, which increasingly, is become a major liability in my career, despite plenty of experience.

    I have 65 semester units completed, all earned between 1988-1997. I also have 6 months of eligibility for UI benefits coming up. This is starting to feel like the right time to dive in and get that degree that, more and more, is causing my career to stall out (or even go backwards).

    I've read endlessly about the Big 3, and testing out of classes. But as much as I read, I just can't quite seem to put together a plan of how to use one of the Big 3 to complete a degree (Business or HR) within this 6 month window. I know it would largely need to be done via CLEP, etc., but I just don't quite get it how to put it all together.

    I hate to ask, because I know it's plastered all over this forum, but can I ask for help with two questions?

    1. Is there any particular advantage for one specific Big 3 school over the others, based on what I've described above?

    2. In the simplest possible terms, how can I complete those 55 units in 6 months?

    I'm happy to provide any additional information that's needed.

  2. Nodaclu

    Nodaclu New Member

    I should add that, my completed 65 units largely cover General Ed requirements (minus math and science), a number of lower division Psychology and History classes, and a pair of upper division History classes.

    Also, I've had CSU-Global evaluate all of my transcripts, and their program to complete an HRM (HR Management) degree, is the simplest and most straightforward of any I've seen (30 units in the major, 10 GE units, and 15 elective units).

    I'm also considering Fort Hays State for their low tuition costs, and the availability of a Training & Development degree, as it's an area of interest, and is connected enough to HR for my previous years of experience to be of benefit.

    But of course, either or the above will take far longer than 6 months to complete. Is it worth it? I don't know...

    One thing I haven't really considered at all to this point, is whether or not I can use any of my previous experience in HR to earn additional life experience credit. Since most of my experience has been in small shops, I don't have the depth of knowledge that many other professionals with the same length of experience might have.
  3. Nodaclu

    Nodaclu New Member

    One more

    I've spent the past 2 years doing some security work for an HR software platform. I do have some interest in Cyber Security (and it's a much better job market than HR). CSU Global and Charter Oak both have Cyber Security programs, and combined with the small amount of software security experience I have, might be enough to be able to make the transition (that, and I also know the Director of IT Security for a major healthcare company...which might also be helpful).

    But I don't believe I can "test out" of a degree like that (I know for sure that I can't at CSUG). On the other hand, it might be worthwhile to do as much as I can for the next 6 months, and finish as I'm able.
  4. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    The simplest and fastest way to knock through 55 units is likely to be testing. But I don't know how much of your program can be tested out of, at this stage.

    Do you know which credits you have completed? Were they all completed at a regionally accredited college? Were they completed at a community college?

    Also, do you have HR certifications? If you do, those can potentially help you close the gap.

    Do you have an associate's degree? If not, you might consider seeing if you can close that gap first and then having something to add to your resume while you finish off the requirements for the bachelor's.

    There are schools with short terms. It would be rigorous. But even then I cannot imagine it fitting with a 6 month timeline.

    If you are feeling especially motivated you could try a competency based (self-paced) program. Some allow transfer credits. Some do not.
  5. GoodYellowDogs

    GoodYellowDogs New Member

    I'll add that while it would be rigorous, it's not impossible. I did several tests on the same day when they were similar. For example, I did criminology, business ethics, and ethics in america all on a Saturday morning. 9 units - done!

    I had similar experiences with psych and sociology tests.

    When I enrolled in Excelsior, I didn't have a capstone requirement. I know they do now, and I'm not sure how much time that will take.
  6. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    The advantage of the big three schools is that all, or almost all, the degree requirements to be transferred in from other schools or test agencies.

    In my opinion the Excelsior BS in Liberal Arts is the most flexible degree to complete since it allows 59 elective units which can be professional credits (such as business, engineering, education, nursing, and criminal justice).

    It may be tough to finish your degree in 6-months, getting an associate degree is a good start then you can state on your resume that you are finishing up your bachelor degree with X credits remaining.

    Find and become a member of an appropriate professional body (looks good on a resume but also gives you a network of peers).
    Top Professional Associations for Business Students
  7. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. This should be the first step. See if you can qualify for an Associate degree from the school where you earned your credits so that you have a degree in less time (or virtually no time), no matter what.

    If that's not an option or if you earned the credits at more than one school, the next step I'd take is seeing if I can finish that Associate degree first by having as many credits transferred in as I can; it's the path of least resistance if you're able to get a great deal of your credits accepted and it won't slow you up on your path to the Bachelor's degree since the credits you'll be earning should be able to transfer. One of the most unfortunate mistakes people make is never getting any degree on their way to a Bachelor's, not realizing that the Associate degree has good value. Going "Bachelor's or bust" is a very common, big mistake, but I suppose you may realize it at this point having 65 credits which is past the required 60 that most U.S. colleges require for the Associate degree (with the understanding of needing all the courses to satisfy all general education, elective, and core courses).

    That was exactly my next thought. If your prior schools aren't an option for you, I'd look into competency-based programs like Patten University, The University of Wisconsin, or Western Governors. Competency-based options require lots of self-motivation, but testing-out at places like Thomas Edison State or Excelsior is also an option if you're self-motivated to the extreme level.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2016
  8. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    You've gotten the best answers on the other forum. As dfrecore said, you can test out of TESU's BSBA degrees. She also pointed you to a thread with links to degree plans that tell you what you can do to test out of each requirement. This will give you the advantage of having a degree that is related to your field rather than a liberal arts or liberal studies degree, which you might come to regret later. TESU now requires a 1-credit cornerstone, but it will be much cheaper, faster, and easier than completing the capstone at Excelsior or the cornerstone and capstone and COSC. Also, there is conflicting information on whether or not you can still transfer in information literacy at Excelsior. It might vary by school (liberal arts, business, public service, etc.) It's a fast and easy course, but still an extra $510. Then, there is a research and writing course they now require. I'm not sure if there is a test out option for that. Their research methods Uexcel doesn't seem to fulfill that requirement.

    To summarize the benefits of getting a BSBA at TESU:

    1. It's related to your field.
    2. You are not required to take a capstone course that will take two to three months to complete.
    3. It is the cheapest degree one can earn from the Big 3.

    I doubt a competency-based program will be faster. People barely finish the equivalent of 36-credit master's degrees in 6 months at those schools. Most will take at least a year to finish a master's degree. Granted, master's programs generally require more writing, but 55 or more credits (it'll likely be more since everything won't transfer) in undergraduate courses will likely take just as long as a whole master's program. You can get a free evaluation at Patten. I've gotten one. They're very picky. I ended up choosing TESU for my second degree since I was less than 30 credits away, but 60 credits away from earning a bachelor's in the same subject at Patten. For me, it's also faster for me to study for a test for credit than to take multiple quizzes, write a long paper, and take a final exam for each course.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2016
  9. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I don't think I saw anything that actually explains the "6 months" deadline (not that it really matters) but I bring it up because you'll be pushing the limits even if you're working on multiple CLEPs simultaneously. It is all based on the optimistic premise that you pass all the tests.
  10. TonyM

    TonyM Member

  11. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I saw the credits you posted on the other forum. Almost all of them are general education credits, so you don't need the flexibility of the BS in Liberal Arts at Excelsior.

    Am I missing something? I don't see any degree plans on BA in 4 Weeks. I see a lot of references to the GRE Subject Tests and Excelsior, but Excelsior no longer accepts those.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2016
  12. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    If I read the original post correctly, the OP is anticipating being unemployed in a few weeks as a contract ends and anticipates 6 months of unemployment insurance benefits. So I believe the thought process is to spend those six months cranking out a degree and then hitting the job market with a bachelor's in hand.

    This is good info and I agree that a degree in Liberal Arts isn't offering any savings of time or effort.

    Some considerations:

    1. If you have HR certifications then you can potentially receive credit for those through a portfolio evaluation.
    2. I don't know if accounting is of any interest at all but the undergraduate certificate in accounting at Penn Foster is self-paced and reasonably priced. The courses are ACE evaluated so they should transfer to the Big Three. That's 30 credits that just happen to meet the major requirements for the BSBA in Accounting at TESU.

    While I recognize that Accounting isn't exactly a feeder degree into the HR field, it is certainly not one that is likely to hold you back. In many instances where an MBA is preferred for HR professionals I have found that the requirement almost always ties back to the position having financial responsibilities that are not covered by HRCI certifications or standard HR coursework. If you have your certifications already, coupled with your years of experience, it would be a viable pathway if, of course, you have even the remotest interest in accounting.

    If accounting isn't your thing, the business management certificate at the same school offers many of the same benefits. ACE recommendation, a chunk of credits etc. Unlike the accounting program, however, I haven't looked at it side by side with the TESU programs to see if it would be as helpful, however.
  13. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    CSU Global also has an accounting certificate that I believe one can complete with only their CBEs (competency-based exams). TESU accepts their CBEs. COSC now accepts them after I argued with them through email. They also have some human resources CBEs.
  14. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    If you go the route of earning an accounting certificate at Penn Foster or CSU Global, you can use all or most of those credits toward a general management or equivalent concentration at one of the Big 3 if the accounting concentration doesn't appeal to you. All business degrees will require financial and managerial accounting, and the rest of the accounting courses can be used with a mix of other business courses in a general concentration.
  15. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, I get that. I guess my point is that this is actually a soft deadline, self-imposed. It can be bent just by deciding to do so. This is good because we've heard of people who just couldn't squeeze all the tests into a rigid time frame, even if they were prepared to take them. 60 credits in 6 months is theoretically possible but if the ball bounces the wrong way it's easy to miss that deadline.
  16. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    My money is on the degree plan Dfrecore made for you yesterday - her plan is solid.
  17. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    As your credits are very old, this could be a challenge. 6 months is not very realistic as just the evaluation of your credits might take few months.

    Your best bet is a liberal arts or general degree from one of the big 3 as these degrees are normally open to old credits, if you want to take a technology or business degree the credits that are too old will not transfer. You can then take cheap and flexible ACE reviewed courses from penn foster college. I have completed courses from penn foster in one week but this depends a lot on your previous knowledge. Penn foster is the cheapest and most flexible source of ACE reviewed credits that transfer to a RA school that I know.

    You cannot also assume that all your credits will transfer, some might be considered overlap or wont fit the curriculum.

    I think a year seems to be feasible as six months is not very realistic as just between evaluation and graduation you have about 4 months.
  18. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    It is, indeed, a self-imposed deadline. Personally, I would be applying for jobs left and right while unemployed. If I landed one, I would continue the degree part time. You can always leave the job later on, degree in hand, if a better job comes along. Prolonged gaps in your resume, even for school, for a seasoned professional is a red flag for most hiring managers.

    As stated earlier, knocking through an associate's might provide more immediate relief. In theory, a bachelor's requirement is a simple binary function. You either have the degree as required or you don't. In practice, employers tend to flex when they are getting numerous experienced applicants without the degree and numerous inexperienced applicants with the degree. Having that associate's might push you above the others without the degree and be a more comfortable exception.

    Of course, if you are living in a highly competitive job market like NYC, there are plenty of qualified candidates with the degree so it becomes a bit tougher. But, even then, the pickiness of such a job market can work to your advantage. Employers then have the luxury of zeroing in on specific skills and experience. It may not be enough that you managed a self insured health plan. They may want someone who managed a self insured WC plan for over 10k employees, in NY, and familiarity with their unique industry. Outside of a city, where candidates are somewhat limited, you may have to choose the applicant who has the closest match which may still be miles away.

    So, I certainly wouldn't stick to that six month deadline religiously. Depending upon how much less that other job paid, it may be worth avoiding unemployment while you finish off this degree.

    On the one hand, I get it, you're feeling the crunch. On the other, you've worked in HR for 17 years knowing that the degree would eventually be an obstacle and you chose the end of a contract to fix the problem. I'm not trying to shame you. But there are lessons to be learned in this situation as you consider next steps.

    *yes, I switched narratives between addressing Kizmet and the OP without the courtesy of a segue. I'm trying to do this from a phone while I wait for someone at the airport.
  19. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I don't know about Excelsior, but TESU accepts old credits depending on the subject of the course, not the degree program. The OP has general education credits that do not have an expiration date at TESU. It doesn't matter if the OP chooses a business or liberal studies program.

    Straighterline, which has ACE approval for its courses, is much cheaper and faster than Penn Foster. Straighterline costs $49 per course for most courses, and you pay a $99 per month subscription fee. Most people can finish a course in a month. A lot of people finish SL courses in a weekend allowing them to finish multiple courses in a month. Saylor is also cheap and only requires the passing of a final exam. Saylor courses are free; the testing fee with ProctorU is $25. ALEKS offers ACE-approved math courses. They charge a subscription fee of $20 a month. If you finish in a month, all you pay is $20. charges $200 per month and let's you take up to two courses per month making the cost of each course $100. It's reasonable to expect to finish both courses in a month. A typical Penn Foster course is $237 and some of them require webinars and proctored exams. I don't believe Penn Foster offers online proctoring yet, but the other options I listed do (except for ALEKS because it requires no proctoring).

    Evaluation of the credits will not take a few months. Excelsior is faster than TESU at evaluating the transcripts of applicants, but even TESU's evaluation will take less than two months. Since the OP doesn't have business credits, he/she could be working on those while waiting for the evaluation of her general education courses.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2016
  20. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I agree. The OP should follow Dfrecore's plan on the other forum. It is based on current information. The OP may or may not be able to finish in 6 months, but 7-9 months is reasonable.

Share This Page