Below, I have cut and pasted a document found on this site. It is how to work the system to get college credits without going to class and proving your work experience or any kind of experience in general. Why is what you are advising others to do about getting college from life experience or on the job experience any different from those schools granting college credits for the same things. But all colleges that do this should get the same respect. "The Unofficial Thomas Edison State College Portfolio Guide(Originally posted to the alt.education.distance newsgroup on February 5, 1998)An adapted version of this post has been published in: Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees Nontraditionally, by John B. Bear and Mariah P. Bear, 14th ed. (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2001), pp. 82-85. Because of my comments on the Thomas Edison State College (TESC) thread, I've been inundated with requests for information on how to do a portfolio at TESC. Since there appears to be wide interest in this area, I've decided to save time by responding here on the newsgroup. The requests for information are typified by the following two examples of e-mail I've received in the past few days (with some background facts changed to protect the innocent):> I completed 5 semesters of college and have taken courses> at other colleges. I have worked six years as a> programmer, have published research papers, have been an> MIS Director and advanced technology analyst, and do a> weekly radio program on the Internet.>> I've been fortunate in my career and have advanced> without my BA, but I'd like to get a BA in Computer> Science, nonetheless. The difficulty I have is in trying> to "read the mind" of TESC to see what constitutes a> suitable format for a portfolio. I've never been a good> "follow the instructions" student. I've always learned> best by example.>> Also, I don't have all the code, analysis and reports I> wrote years ago. How do I get credit for it?>> Ultimately, I'd even like to get an MS in Computer > Science. I've determined that TESC is probably my best> bet [for the bachelor's degree]. In the packets I've> received from them, however, Okay, campers, get out your notebooks . . . There will be a quiz at the end of this post. But seriously...The principle behind a TESC portfolio is that you should demonstrate a knowledge of the subject you are challenging for credit that is approximately equal to what a student would have learned if he or she had taken the same course you are challenging. No less, but no more.How do you challenge a course by portfolio? First, you have to decide what course you want to challenge, and it must be an actual course that is offered at any regionally accredited community college, four-year college, or university. In other words, it's not enough to say, "I want to submit a portfolio to earn three credits in computer science," you must actually find a course in computer science and challenge the specific course. For example, "I believe that I have the knowledge necessary to challenge Introduction to Computer Science, course number MIS-104, as it is offered at XYZ University in Podunk, Idaho."Therefore, the most important resource as you begin to develop your portfolio will be a library with a decent selection of college catalogs. Your first step should be to locate such a library, then spend an afternoon going through their stacks of college catalogs. And bring a lot of dimes, because you're going to want to make a bunch of photocopies.Now, grab a stack of catalogs from regionally accredited two-year (junior) colleges and four-year colleges, have a seat, and start leafing through the section of each catalog that has the course listings with two or three-line course descriptions. (Full-length catalogs generally have course descriptions) And simply look for any course title in which you think you have sufficient knowledge to challenge. It doesn't matter what the subject is. Why? Because, in addition to subjects in your particular field, you will also need credits to complete distribution requirements such as liberal arts and free electives.("Distribution requirements? Okay, let's look at a specific example. TESC's B.A. in Humanities requires that a student complete 6 credits in written expression, 12 in each of the three broad liberal arts areas - including humanities, math and natural sciences, and social sciences, 18 additional liberal arts credits of your choice, 33 credits for your major or specialization, and 27 credits in free electives, for a total of 120 credits. In the math and natural science area, you must include at least one course in college-level math and one in computer science.) Now, if you see a course that you think you can challenge, make a photocopy of the catalog page with the short course description, including the course number and number of credits offered, and write the following additional information somewhere on your copy: Name of the school at which the course is offered, publication year of the catalog, page number, and name of the department that offers the course. Then simply challenge the course through TESC.In other words, say you like walking through the woods while playing "Skip to My Lou" on the guitar. (Hell, it takes all kinds.) Believe it or not, Kent State University offers a two-credit course titled Folk Guitar Class. Get ahold of a Kent State catalog, make a copy of the course description, and create a portfolio submission in which you are essentially saying to TESC, "I want to challenge Folk Guitar Class as it is offered at Kent State University for two credits." How will TESC know what the course comprises? Because you will be submitting a photocopy of the course description from Kent State's catalog with your submission.That's it. Really, gang, that's the whole ball of wax. Do that for any course you feel you can challenge based on your current knowledge of a subject. courses titled "19th Century American History" and "American History 1800-1899" - they're the same course, and TESC will pick up on this in a nanosecond.Also, be sure you challenge the course under the correct broad subject area - especially if it's a computer science course. you'll need a separate binder or presentation folder for each course submission, even if it's only two pages long. (Yes, they can be that short. For my one-credit course in CPR, I submitted a cover sheet plus a photocopy of my current CPR certification. That was enough to earn the credit.)The cover sheet is in a format provided by TESC, and includes information on you and your degree program, the course title and number of credits for which you are applying, and the pasted-up photocopy of the course description along with the institutional information. (Remember? That's .Remember that your validating evidence can take the form of documents, written products, audio or videotapes, or merely a list of books you have read in a subject. You can earn credit on a portfolio in any of three ways: (1) on evidence alone, (2) by testing, or (3) through a combination of evidence and testing. Are you challenging a course in computer science? No problem, just submit copies of programs you have written, or of disks which your course evaluator can use to run the programs. (And if you submit disks, hide the code. That way, even if you break "the rules of programming," the evaluator will only see the result - that the program works - and will not grade you on the theory behind the programming.)Now, the obvious question is, "How will the evaluator know that I wrote the manuals, the programs, etc.?" That's where the second most important type of evidence comes into play: letters of validation. Get anyone who is qualified to write validation letters attesting to your knowledge of the subject you are challenging. Remember that they are to be validation letters, not reference letters. You want him or her to write a letter that validates the claims you have made in your portfolio: "Joe is our Human Resources Director. His job responsibilities include recruiting, performance evaluations, and salary analysis. He has written our company's personnel and benefits administration manuals." That's validation.Some course submissions require minimal documentation, especially if they require a credential. In addition to CPR, other examples include Red Cross First Aid (yes, there are college courses available in this), holding a pilot's license or a cosmetology license, a CNA or CNE certification if you are a programmer or MIS administrator, a nursing or medical certification, a commercial driver's license, or even if you are a licensed funeral director (yes, there are college courses for morticians). In fact, if you hold any type of license or certification, you should automatically look for courses in your field. The rule of thumb is simple: There is a college course offered somewhere in virtually any topic you can imagine. (Hell, even Berkeley offers a course titled The Films of Keanu Reeves.) What if you don't have enough documentation to pursue credit on evidence alone? Then go for the testing option.Let's go back to Folk Guitar Class for a moment. There's not a lot of theory in this area; as Ethel Merman sang in Gypsy, "You either got it . . . or you don't." For my credit in folk guitar, I met with TESC's evaluator (a music professor at Mercer County Community College) and played a few songs on the guitar. (By the way, I also challenged voice, piano, solfeggio [sight singing], performance class, choral singing, and a few other music courses.) After a two-hour meeting with the evaluator, I walked out with 20 credits in various music subjects.