Most people will readily acknowledge that it is important to get post secondary schooling in order to get the best possible career. It has also been linked to things like a higher quality of living and even better health and enjoyment out of life! However, there is one rather glaring black spot in getting a post secondary degree in the United States and that is the huge cost.
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On average, tuition is over $23,000 in private colleges and over $8,000 in public institutions per year and that’s not taking into account things like housing, books, and general supplies. That is a huge financial burden for young adults to handle and it usually results in a heavy burden of debt before graduating students even have a chance to get work! While plenty of people argue about the rising cost of tuition, where the money goes and how anyone can afford it, the bottom line is that the costs of schooling have far outstripped the ability of students to pay it and yet they still feel the pressure to go.
Generally speaking, tuition is paid for by parents, loans, credit cards, scholarships, bursaries, savings, and independent funds. Most students though end up in debt and this causes a lot of problems. Even if you spend a long time planning for your education, this does cut down on costs, but delays your degree which means you could be missing opportunities. So what can be done about this?
There are good ways to get the education you want for far less money if you’re willing to think a little bit outside the box. These include doing things like correspondence study, life experience learning credit and credit for testing. Most people know what the first two options are, but what are testing programs for credit?
Testing for Credit
Testing for credit is considered to be one of the best ones around if you’re looking for a fast-track to a degree or at least a serious head start. There are two types: CLEP and DSST. CLEP is issued by the College Board’s College Level Examination Program and you can earn a full college credit by taking one of thirty four exams or more. DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) was originally intended for the military (DANTES-Defence Activities for Non-Traditional Education Support). It’s issued by Prometric and has thirty seven tests available.
There are two big advantages to this method of earning your degree: Cost and timing.
Cost-wise, each credit is about a third of the price you would pay for a course in college. The exam fee is $80.00 plus there is usually an additional fee that varies depending on where you are taking the exam (it’s usually between fifteen and thirty five dollars, depending on where you’re doing the exam). This means that you can get a course credit for just over one hundred dollars instead of two or three hundred dollars; definitely a tidy savings.
The next advantage is timing. All of the hours you would normally spend in a classroom are instead spent in self directed learning which culminates in an exam that takes one to three hours to complete. This means that you can do all of your studying around your own schedule and you don’t have to make room around someone else’s schedule. However, this does mean that you have to self motivated, you have to be able to find your study materials (fortunately, the internet has made this incredibly easy and usually cheap or free), and you have to take the time to do the studying and work necessary so that you can pass your exam the first time around.
Although it sounds daunting to have to do your own studying, many people find that it is actually very beneficial due to the brain’s ability to compress information and store it better than information that is only skimmed over. The combination of focus, a deadline, and a topic you care about means that it’s easier to study and pass the exam all at once rather than drawing it out over several months.
If you want to be able to get your degree in far less time, then CLEP or DSST testing might be perfect for you. You’ll save a ton of money and time and you can get on the fast track to the life you’d actually enjoy. Just make sure that your college will allow you to earn credits in this fashion, find the right exams that will give you want you want, pass the exam and then transfer the credit to your transcript. Do it enough and you could have your degree or at least get most of the way to a degree for far less time and money. Good luck!
Charlene Mattson is an enthusiastic and passionate writer who has been writing over a lot of areas throughout her life including education, nutrition and health to name a few. Currently she is associated with Get College Credit, a site recommended by the American Council on Education, for students to obtain college credits in diverse disciplines.
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