I have a decent job that requires me to be on-call, day and night, about 2 weeks per month. The job pays nicely, I like it, and I expect to be in it at least 3-5 years with no changes in responsibilities.
I have about half of a BA in a social sciences field (credits are now over a decade old, suspect most won’t transfer), and if I lose my current job, lacking a degree is a major impediment to finding a new one… I was just out of work for 3 years and had little traction during that time.
I’m in technology. I’d like to look at a degree in something like computer science, MIS or the like, but any degree besides a BFA would give me a dramatic leg up over my current situation.
Good on you for wanting to finish your degree! I work at a university and I really like helping students figure out how they can best accomplish their goals cheaper, faster, or better, depending on what they’re going for.
Assuming that returning to your original institution is not feasible or desirable, are there any public or nonprofit four-year institutions in your area that serve nontraditional students? Assuming they have degrees that suit your goals, you can talk to their admissions office about how your previous credits would treated, whether they offer online or hybrid classes, and how many hours you would need to complete in residence. If possible, you’d want to talk to someone in the department where you would want to study to gauge whether it would be a good fit.
I just started my BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) at Western Governor’s University. It’s an entirely online program. What I like most is that it’s also self-paced. I pay for a six month period, and do as many classes as I can finish in that time. There is a minimum you have to do to stay in their good graces, but you can work faster when you’re not on-call, and fewer hours when you are on-call. If something comes up and you need a “term break”, you just request one of your mentor and they make it happen.
Pretty much every student is a working student; they are definitely prepared to deal with the needs of working learning adults. The school mascot is the “Night Owl”.
They were very generous with transfer credits from my previous college experience, and they’re outcome based…not a lot of busy work or homework; when you feel you’ve mastered the content and you’re ready to take the assessment (there are not-for-credit “pre-assessments” you can take to see if you’re ready), you tell your mentor and they help you schedule the assessment. Some of the assessments are project based, and some are test based. The tests are proctored via a WGU issued webcam with fancy facial recognition and eye tracking software to keep you honest. Or you can take your tests at a WGU approved testing site at a local university in front of an actual person.
They’re accredited by all the right people to make them a “real degree” for my needs; of course you should verify that for your own field.
In the immediate area, one public university and one public 2-year tech school.
Nothing else for a two hour drive.
The original institution is a public university that is now in another state, with a focus on local students.
I’ll check on the local university, but it’s a flagship, and I think it’s about local on-campus classes for the most part.
WhyNot, you have really piqued my interest in your school. It sounds like a perfect fit for me. With a full time teaching job and two young kids, the travel required for a traditional program is just too time consuming. The self paced program is fascinating and very attractive to this type A very driven learner.
I’m literally only 9 days in, but so far I quite like it. I began the application process in April, was pre-approved for enrollment in early May, and got all the Financial Aid worked out about a week before my start date of June 1st.
Each student is assigned a personal mentor. Mine has a Master’s in Nursing, but she’s not really my mentor in a nursing sense - she’s there to help me set goals, enroll in my first classes, make at least weekly phone calls to make sure I’m staying on track and to help me with any “I can’t find that link” or “wait, how do I get into the library resources again?” questions. She’s also the person I contact when I’m ready to take the final class assessment.
Each course has a course mentor. The course mentors are the ones who write the courses, and are there for course specific questions or problems. I haven’t needed to contact her yet.
One thing I really like is that pre-assessment test. You get 3 times to take it. My mentor and I agreed that I should take it before I even start the course. I know I need a 70% or better on the final assessment to pass. I got a 77% on the pre-assessment before I opened a book (link…they’re all eboooks). But best of all, there’s a “coaching report”, telling me which aspects I didn’t do so well on:
Obviously, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the Mental Assessment part of the course, because I’m okay there. But I’m really going to pour over the Reproductive Assessment part. (This reinforces and provides an objective assessment of where I thought my weakness probably was…I do home nursing for geriatric patients. Lots of Mental Assessment, but detailed Reproductive Assessment is *not *part of my job, so when the test started asking about specific names of speculums and the order of events during a comprehensive breast exam, I knew I didn’t know that stuff.)
I’m shocked I scored so low on Head to Toe. Don’t quite know what went wrong there. But that’s okay, I now know that I need to study that before I take the test that counts.
I’ll talk to my student mentor again tomorrow. It’s technically possible for me to take the real assessment as soon as my webcam arrives, but I’m going to suggest that I’d feel more comfortable spending this week on my weak areas, and take the pre-assessment again. If I can score well in the 80’s on my next pre-assessment, I’ll feel more comfortable taking the final assessment. (I get two tries on the final assessment; more tries can be had, but cost more money.)
So if I take the final assessment next Friday, I’ll have completed the class in 2 weeks. Right now, I’ve got 4 classes scheduled for this term, and if I finish them before the end of November, I can do some more. As currently scheduled, I should be done by Nov 30, 2014, but I hope to shave 6 months off that timeline.
“At your own pace” was a HUGE part of why I chose this program. I’m a quick reader/writer, and I hate waiting for other students to catch up. Plus, it’s just way cheaper if I can go quickly! If I can pull it off in a year, it will be around $7500 for my Bachelor’s, etexts and fees included (and I get to keep the nifty webcam). Other RN to BSN programs are $20,000 - $30,000!
Now I’m even more interested. I just sent an email to someone at my work to see if their program qualifies for tuition reimbursement. We normally get reimbursed at the completion of each course so I’m not sure if WGU’s program would fit that model.
They all have liberal transfer policies. From experience I can only speak of Excelsior. Credits from long ago don’t expire except in highly technical subject areas. Courses in which you got a “D” will probably not transfer. Otherwise there is no limit to the number of credits you can transfer. There is also no limit to the number of credits you can earn by examination. Inexpensive standard tests you can get credit for include the CLEP, DSST, and the relatively new UExcel (originated by Excelsior but accepted by most other colleges). Unfortunately these tests tend to grant only lower-level credits. To complete a major, you need upper-level credits too. Sometimes you can complete upper-level credits by college-specific examinations, but these tend to be more expensive.
There are a great many respectable schools, brick-and-mortar schools, schools you have heard of, that offer distance education options. By far the best resource for finding these programs is The College Blue Book, volume 6: Distance Learning Programs. It’s too expensive to buy, but you should be able to find a current copy at any college library or good public library.
It used to be that you had to be a resident of one of the six New England states to apply to Charter Oak State College. I don’t find anything about that on their website now, so that may be a thing of the past. Charter Oak is the only school I know of that still grants credit based on scores on the GRE subject exams. No credit is granted for the GRE general exam. You can get most of the upper-level credits you need to complete a major (concentration) that way. This is a great low-cost option for people who already know, or can easily learn, the material. Unfortunately the number of different GRE subject tests offered is dwindling. There used to be at least 16 subjects, but now only 7. The computer science GRE has been eliminated.
I don’t want to leave the impression that the non-traditional colleges are all about credit by examination. You can also take their online classes, or take online classes elsewhere and transfer the credits.