Hi,Courses you can take by examination:
I'm Jack Star, founder and director of the Free University Project. I'm here to help you develop a study plan so you can better prepare to take one or more standard proficiency tests that demonstrate your competency in a particular subject. You can receive from 3 to 30 college credits from a single exam, depending on the exam and the policies of your chosen college or university. (You can also combine credits from a number of sources and obtain an External Degree from several recognized institutions -- see the end of this letter for references.)
The fee for taking each exam ranges from $40 to $80. In addition, you will probably have to buy at least one standard textbook (which will range from $20 to $40) for each subject. I also recommend that you buy a book of sample tests for each exam to help you prepare (they run from $15 to $27). In addition, your institution will probably charge you an administrative fee.
Add up the total costs (typically around $115 for a three-to-six unit course) and you can see that they are far below the $300 to $550+ tuition per course you would normally pay. (While this isn't quite free, yet, I have outlined some strategies you can use to obtain grants, scholarships and other aid. See Administration/Financial Aid. Of course, you will also save the cost of transportation and residence halls.
But there is more to credit by examination than just saving money.
- You study at your own time and at your own pace. That gives you incredible flexibility because you are not tied to a college calendar. If your work load changes, or personal obligations or illness suddenly require a lot of your time, you can work around it. (Most CBE exams are offered several times a year in a wide variety of locations).
- You can study anywhere in the world (the only caveat: you need access to the Internet) See Administration/Counseling for possible scenarios.
- You can combine a traditional college education with credit by examination and save yourself a semester, even a year or more.
Are there any limitations? Certainly. Generally only core courses are offered by examination and there are also limits to the number of majors (or minors) that you can pursue entirely by examination. (A table listing available subjects and maximum credit awarded is located at the end of this page). Also, each institution has its own limitations on the number of credits you can receive by examination. However, four states grant valid, recognized, external degrees that can be obtained ENTIRELY through credit by examination.
Although credit by examination has been around for over 30 years and hundreds of thousands of students have taken advantage of these exams, most students have not. In my conversations with students I find the most frequently cited underlying reasons are: I can't do it. I don't have the discipline. If I didn't have to go to class, I'd never study.
These were talented people so I couldn't accept those reasons. Digging deeper I find that what really troubles them is that they haven't been taught to be independent learners. They don't know where to begin. They don't know how to develop a plan of action. They don't know how to execute that plan step-by-step. One of the main purposes of the Free University Project is to provide this kind of guidance; to show you that you can succeed.
The Role of the InternetThe Internet, and particularly the World Wide Web, removes many of the obstacles to the independent learner.
- The library is always open and available. The books or resources you need are never checked out or on reserve.
- An increasing number of professors are placing full course materials directly on the Web, and they are becoming more sophisticated about the use of the Web.
- Some mentors are available by e-mail.
- Student works are frequently posted on the Web so you can see more clearly what is expected from you.
- Previous exams (class exams, not the ones you will be taking) are available which can provide real help as you study.
- Course outlines and study guides help you understand what it is you are expected to learn; and the sequence to follow.
- Links connect you to related material
- Full lectures, while still rare, are beginning to appear on the Web (one of the other main purposes of the Free University Project is to work with professors, foundations and government institutions to make available more lectures that tie in directly to courses available by examination).
Current limitations of the Internet
- Not all courses are available in enough detail.
- Some sites are very busy, and downloads are slow.
- Many courses do not relate directly to the exams you have to take.
- Some courses are only kept on the host computer for short periods of time.
The informatiom available on the WWW changes on a daily basis. That is why this site is always under construction as we try to keep up with new material, find other related sites, and establish a permanent home for valuable course material.
While the Free University Project will focus on the Intertnet, we recognize that other course material is available through, for example, PBS telecourses, Mind Expansion University, Knowledge TV and other cable channels, and that many libraries carry video and audio tapes that relate to the some subjects. In addition, a considerable amount of reference and course-related material is available on CD-ROM. We will try to incorporate information about these resources as well.
There are four major testing agencies: The College Board (CLEP and AP), American College Testing (ACT), Thomas Edison State College (TECEP) and (DANTES), and Educational Testing Service (GRE). A summary of the courses available by examination can be found at Administration/Catalog.
NOTE: The Free University Project will focus first on the CLEP tests and then on the GRE.
Here are some sites that you should visit:
ACT, formerly called the American Testing Service. As of the date of this post they have a scant page on the Web. Call for info; they have several free publications. (319) 337-1000.
College Board a very extensive site - but scare information on the CLEP tests themselves - they probably want you to buy "The Official Handbook for the CLEP Examinations" (~$15) - which you probably should do. Has good links to financial aid. (212) 713-8000.
Education Testing Service a very extensive site, including the GRE exams, DANTES exams and other useful information for test takers. Also has links to financial aid. Web site uses frames. (609) 771-7670.
Thomas Edison State College (NJ). This is a site for the college which is one of several which awards a low cost External Degree. They also administer the TECEP and DANTES tests. (609) 633-2844.
Regents College of the State of New York which only has a preliminary website available as of the date of this post. Regents College provides a combination of ways you can obtain credit in major areas, such as Liberal Arts, Business, Technology and Nursing. (518) 464-8500. A website is also maintained by John R. Wetsch, Ph.D. that has additional information
Charter Oak State College. This college also allows a number of ways to gain credit and the site is well developed and worth exploring.
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