October 1, 2014
Individuals need many skills in order to succeed in today’s job market, but one of the most important is obtaining a college degree. Almost 50% of all college enrollments, or about 7.5 million students, are classified as "adult learners." But getting the degree is often neither a quick nor cheap enterprise.
Here are some shortcuts to college costs:
- Internet and Online Courses: Some people prefer to learn and earn credit on their own time and at their own pace, wherever they live or travel. Internet use is expanding rapidly, as colleges create curricula for this new technology, which allows students to take courses at a distance, enrolling by mail and using the textbook, course outline and reference materials to complete assignments and exams by e-mail.
- Television: Some campuses offer complete degree programs or individual courses by using cable or public television stations. Some programs offer college courses viewed by taped classroom learning or interactive "live" classroom experiences. These options are useful for adult learners who travel or cannot attend traditional classroom schedules, and are available at both undergraduate and graduate degree levels.
- Testing Programs: The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a national series of examinations designed by the College Board to indicate college level learning in a wide range of subject areas. Almost two-thirds of all colleges and universities grant credit for satisfactory scores by CLEP, and these tests are inexpensive.
- Credit for Prior Training Experiences: Many colleges are starting to grant credit for prior training. The American Council on Education (ACT) has evaluated thousands of military and corporate training programs and seminars and equated them to college course learning.
- Portfolio of Prior Learning: Students can demonstrate a certain level of learning which has occurred outside the classroom and receive college credit. This is usually accomplished through the preparation and presentation of a formal portfolio. Many campuses offer a course or advisors to help students prepare portfolios. The possibility of earning 20 or more credits through this process make it well worth the time and cost savings.
Completing coursework by such independent study requires motivation, self-discipline and good study skills. Many colleges and universities offer college credit by use of the computer and the cost can be considerably lower than classroom courses.
The Proficiency Examination Program (PEP) is another national examination program offered by the American College Testing Program. These exams cover material comparable to college courses in a variety of fields.
The National Program on Non-Sponsored Instruction, conducted by the Board of Regents of the State University System of New York evaluates formal educational programs sponsored by organizations, labor unions, government hospitals, business and industry.