Need help formulating a plan

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by startover, May 6, 2009.

  1. startover

    startover New Member

    Hours currently held:

    6 Comp
    6 Humanities
    3 US Gov't
    3 Business Ethics
    3 Biology

    6 Analyzing and Interpreting Literature- Clep
    35 hours of FEMA classes that qualify for credit- at least per the FEMA website.

    The problem: A position has come open and will likely remain open for a tech writer in my company, a safe assumption would be that I have a 5 month window before this position is out of reach. Despite having been employed as a Tech Writer previously at another company, my current company requires a BA or BS degree- any degree- in order to be considered a viable candidate for the position.

    I live in Minnesota, and would be taking CLEP tests at the North Hennepin Community College open test center. I've read the web page of the test center today, and they do not mention providing DANTES tests. I looked up via the TCO Test Center Search a location for taking DANTES tests and found this:

    506 ROEDER CIR
    FT SNELLING MN 55111-4009

    1. Are civilians allowed to take DANTES tests on military installations? All of the DANTES test providers returned were military locations.

    2. With very limited time, and a lot of determination and strong test-taking history, what would be the fastest route to a degree. The BA or BS in liberal studies through Excelsior?

    3. I have very limited time during the day to call any of these institutions (because of work restrictions) so any information/advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.
  2. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    Have you looked into Charter Oak State College, Excelsior College, or Thomas Edison State College? I am not sure how many of the 35 credit hours in FEMA courses will transfer into a degree outside of the free electives category. A few people on this forum have used FEMA credit hours so they can provide more insight. It appears you have 104 credit hours at this time leaving approximately 16 credit hours to be completed. I would investigate the "Big Three" to determine where you stand in terms of needed credit hours in the precise distribution. Portfolio assessment is another way to earn credit hours for previous knowledge including work experience. I think all three will perform a preliminary credit evaluation for a nominal fee without applying for admissions with them. In the interim you might want to earn an AA or AS on your way to the BA or BS.
  3. startover

    startover New Member

    After doing a quick refresher/review of the schools, it looks like the BS at Excelsior is my best bet. I believe they only accept a maximum of 25 FEMA hours, but only if first transcripted onto by TESC?

    My original post may have been misleading. The numbers meant hours, and not # of classes. If Excelsior accepts 25 FEMA hours, that would place me at about 52 total hours.

    My big concern is locating a DANTES testing center in the area, or finding out whether it would be ok for me to test at a military location as a civilian- if anyone knows this off-hand, it would be very helpful.

    I've identified a local CLEP testing center that has availability on Saturdays if you pre-schedule, which is good.

    Luckily, I'm a quick study and tend to test well. If I can identify the exact tests I need to take to fulfill the degree requirements, I believe it is feasible I could complete ~70 hours in 3 months (depending on DANTES test center availability).
  4. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    It is sometime difficult for civilians to get onto military bases.
    Check out non-military test centers here for DANTES/DSST:
  5. startover

    startover New Member

    2500 PARK AVE, SOUTH

    Perfect! This was a different search engine than I used, and will definitely work. Thank you!
  6. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    The Excelsior BS in Liberal Arts/Studies is one of the most flexible degrees withregard to content. But remember that you must meet the 21 units of upper division credit and also the distribution requirements.
  7. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    COSC only required 15 when I went there. I think they require 18 now. I found that staff at COSC much more friendly then Excelsior.
  8. startover

    startover New Member

    I've just spent the last few hours going over the requirements, and also matching up what tests are available with where I have shortfalls. It does help a little that I applied (but never enrolled) at Excelsior coll 2 years ago. At the time I thought I'd go for a BS Marketing, so their evaluation is a little off from what I'd need in a BS Liberal Arts, but at least I have a good idea where they'll put my prior ed credits - and I'm happy not to have to take the macro/micro economics classes and calculus now.

    I'll try to take as many as possible of the Upper Division requirements from the DANTES offerings to keep costs lower. Right now I have 20 tests to prep for/take. I'll actually enroll once I have 10 down. Now I really wish I'd have just gone ahead and finished this two years ago.
  9. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef


    Based on the credit you already have, TESC is by far the fastest choice. Here is why:
    FEMA counts as free electives, you'll cap out at 28, but that fills the entire requirement. I don't think EC accepts FEMA via TESC unless this has changed.

    TESC counts anything 200 level- not so with EC. EC will require that you take upper level 300/400 exams- which will be ECEs and/or TECEPs. These cost more money, and you'll need to locate a proctor. They can also be text-book specific, not the case with CLEP/DANTES.

    IMO, by far the fastest path for you would be BA Liberal Studies at TESC.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2009
  10. startover

    startover New Member

    uh oh, one of the things I was counting on was that Excelsior would accept ~25 hours of FEMA, as long as I had them credit-banked through TESC. Do they not do that anymore? If not, I agree that TESC is the way to go.

    I've also flipped through a few threads and am curious about Athabasca, and whether the 3 year/ 90 hour degree might be a possibility. I have a feeling that after reading they have 6 month terms it may not be feasible for me.

    It's a shame those GRE subject exams are only offered in April/Oct/Nov. I've studied the Psychology prep material on and off for a couple of years now but just never made it in to test (nerves). Waiting to take the October test would put me right at the outside boundary of meeting the time goal, but if that is what I have to do, I'll do it.
  11. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    The advantage of TESC is the absence of any upper-level (300 and 400 series courses) though many lower-level courses transferred into their degrees map to upper-level courses on the degree audit.

    Athabasca University requires upper-level courses (300 and 400 series courses). However, you can transfer in ALL the credit hours like the "Big Three". We sometimes refer to the "Big Four" being the original "Big Three" plus Athabasca University.

    It might be advantageous to have each of the "Big Four" evaluate your existing credit hours and their distribution before making a final decision. In any event, Thomas Edison State College is probably the most flexible especially if you want to avoid taking upper-level courses. You can always earn a post-baccalaureate certificate in technical writing after the degree to augment your experience.
  12. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    Why not apply for the job anyway and state BS expected by this date - as soon as you finalize the stategy for obtaining your BS/BA document it (include a schedule) and ask for a waiver on the degree requirement and offer to share your plan with the responsible hiring person. Ask your manager for his assistance (a good manager will help you).
    There are exceptions granted to just about every requirement when it comes to hiring. Bottom line is what can you do to make the company more successful.
    Best of luck in meeting carreer goals (earning a degree is a great step forward).
  13. startover

    startover New Member

    I'd love to just apply, but they're very strict here about having the degree prior to starting a degree-requiring position. Also, I'm fairly new to the company, so I haven't yet developed a history of solid performance outside of my little group.

    After reviewing the changes to FEMA credit acceptance/ Excelsior - I am disappointed that they no longer will take credits (circa 2007?) that are transcripted by TESC.

    Admittedly I'm floundering a bit. A BA is better than nothing, but many positions here require a BS. TESC does not seem to have a BS in liberal studies. However, they accept FEMA.

    Charter Oak is flexible on degrees offered, accepts straighterline and Aleks courses, as well as a GRE- but has seemed to be more difficult to work with in terms of pulling it all together.

    Excelsior would require testing out of many more classes, but would accept a GRE (although I'd prefer not to have to wait as long as October to take the test and November to receive the results).

    I have a lot to think about this weekend.

    Also, I do have a question regarding the Nursing ECE's at Excelsior. I noticed that several of them confer 8 UL credits. Has anyone had success in using these as UL credits toward a Liberal Studies degree?

    Thank you all for your feedback so far. It really helps.

  14. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    The distinction between BA and BS is largely semantics and a few credit hours in certain areas. Does your company specify the area in which the degree must be earned? For example, BS(Mathematics) versus BA(Mathematics) or do you merely see more positions saying a BS degree is required without a specific area mentioned?

    Charter Oak State College has very specific subjects for the general education requirement, whereas Thomas Edison State College typically only requires a certain number of credit hours in the broader humanities and/or social science categories as part of their general education requirement.

    Another intermediate option to consider is whether to earn an AA or AS on the way to a BA or BS. This strategy at least provides evidence of your commitment to earning a BA or BS degree and will allow you to earn credit hours towards a BA or BS. For example, the TESC AA would only require you to complete an additional 8 courses (24 credit hours between social science, natural sciences, and general education electives). If you tested out it is definitely possible to have the AA finished as early as August 2009. With that goal met you would likely be further motivated to earn a BA or BS and with the AA completed you have a credential to add to your personnel file.
  15. japhy4529

    japhy4529 House Bassist

    Just a clarification regarding Excelsior and their acceptance of FEMA credits. While a member of this forum (Michael Gates) was able to convince Excelsior to accept his FEMA credits based upon his TESC credit bank, this was a couple of years ago, and I do not believe that they will allow this any longer. Excelsior will accept FEMA credits, provided that they are first transcripted by Frederick County Community College. Frederick charges $65/credit for this service (one FEMA course generally equals 1 credit).

    Also, while Athabasca sounds appealing at first, keep in mind that they are very strict in what they will accept in transfer. The majority of the courses will need to be at the 300 and 400 level. Of course, if you have a number of upper level courses completed already, then perhaps this would be a good option for you.

    I'd recommend going with TESC, simply because they do not require any upper level courses for their BA/BS in Liberal Arts and they will accept FEMA credits in direct transfer.

    Best of Luck!

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