Once you have established your ACE transcript and enrolled into a College, it is time to go over your degree requirements with a school advisor and formulate a non-traditional credit plan to satisfy them. This can be a challenge if you don’t know where to start. When I decided to really tackle my undergraduate degree, the advisors at Excelsior College were outstanding. While I had to find many answers on my own, they often helped to validate that credit I was considering would satisfy the requirements of the degree. When I hit a difficult requirement and couldn’t find alternatives, a single call to the advisors at Excelsior would get me moving in the right direction.
Excelsior College has their own exams that are ACE accredited, and they offer a test finder tool on their website to help students identify what Excelsior College Exams they can take to complete degree requirements. You can find this tool HERE. It is a nice resource, however, it doesn’t cover CLEP, AP, DSST, or TESEC exams which are in my opinion better ways to complete the majority of your degree as quickly and cheaply as possible. If you decide to enroll with Excelsior College to pursue your degree, the Excelsior College Exam (ECE) is perfect for satisfying upper-level credit requirements. Excelsior also has a requirement that so many of your credits are taken at their school. The ECE exams work well to complete the minimum credit requirement as well. For example, the Bachelor’s of Science in General Business program that I went through for my second undergraduate requires students to complete a minimum of 12-credits through Excelsior College. The exams are much more flexible and cost effective than sitting through an 8-week course.
Thomas Edison State College also offers their own ACE accredited examinations known as TECEP Exams. TECEP Exams cost $37 for each credit attempted (approx. $111) for enrolled students, and $50 per credit attempted (approx. $150) for non-enrolled students. These exams are another avenue to save time and money while completing degree requirements. TECEP Exams are cheaper than the Excelsior College Exams, but they still don’t compare with CLEP or DSST exams for convenience or cost. It is incredible how valuable these exams can be to you while working on your bachelor’s degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012-13 the average total tuition, fees, room and board cost for full-time undergraduate students in degree-granting institutions averaged $20,234. That is just for a single year. The average cost is higher for private and lower for public colleges. $20,234 is the average between both types of institution. The link to the reference page is HERE.
Following my method, you can finish an entire Bachelor’s of Science in General Business from Excelsior College for approximately $7075. That is if you start with zero credit hours and have no external source of funding for your degree requirements. If I had not joined the Air Force, I could have paid for both of my degrees working part time at my old after school job at Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits. Upon completion, you will have earned a regionally accredited degree with a specialized accreditation from the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). You can either use your degree to join the workforce with higher pay and a better position or move into a master’s degree at any school you prefer.
In my journey, I used a mix of CLEP, DSST, ECE, and other independent study resources. I combined those credits with those I earned in while completing my Air Force technical training. Overall, I paid less than $10k and took less than 2 years to complete two bachelor’s degrees. If we consider the average cost of a 4-year degree nationwide from the National Center for Education Statistics, completing both of my degrees through traditional classes it would have cost me over $161,872. That is if I could afford to attend school full-time and finished both degrees within 4-years for each of them. Of course, the chances of completing a 4-year degree within that window is slim. The last thing I read on the subject stated only 19% of full-time students earn their bachelor’s degree within 4-years. It takes the majority of students 6-years to complete it. You can just imagine the insane expense, and that is not even counting the opportunity costs of remaining out of the workforce for that amount of time. If you do what I did, even if you are starting at ground zero, you can finish a bachelor’s degree in a little more than a year if you clear one exam a week.