21 Comments

  1. Wow Ed, thanks for the post! I wish this post had been around when I was in high school.
    I’m curious, would this hack work with a college bound HS student who already has some AP and concurrent enrollment credits? My Daughter has already completed 3 AP classes and is registered for 2 concurrent enrollment classes next year, and is planning on another 2-3 AP and CC classes her senior year. I’m just trying to help guide her as best I can.
    Thanks again!

    • Mrs. Hazlenut, your daughter sounds like potential degree hacker. By my calculations, her 10 courses should be worth 30 credit hours or one full academic year. She could certainly earn lots more credits via CLEP and DSST exams. I’ve only taken two exams: the CLEP History and Social Science exam and the DSST Personal Finance exam. I took both test “cold” and passed them both by a wide margin. Keep in mind that you only have to pass the test with roughly 50 correct answers out of 80. That is a very doable proposition for good college-prep student. Your daughter could start taking some CLEP tests this summer and begin banking her credits.

      She could also check out the Excelsior College catalog and see if there is a “real” major that she could pursue. I focused on the B.S. in Liberal Studies just because it is so flexible. Let me know if she attempts to pull this off. Best of luck, thanks for reading, and I appreciate your patience! Ed

    • Mr. Don, join the club on that one. Truth be told, I would have ignored such info at 18 and had another beer or twelve. Oh well, live and learn…just spread the word to someone who might benefit from the post. Thanks for reading, Ed

    • Agreed Brian. Even thought the degree I proposed is pretty generic, at least it doesn’t break the bank either. The degree would provide a necessary credential for jobs requiring a college degree. It would also allow you to attend graduate school for more concentrated training / education. In my mind, there are a ton of reasons to hack a college degree. BTW, military guys have been this for years.

      Thanks for reading and hope to see you again at FinCon. Ed

    • Mark, I’m glad the post caught somebody’s eye. I’d love for a solid high school student take this example and run with it. The time, money, and energy saved with a degree hack would certainly make it worth doing. Thanks for stopping by, Ed

  2. Candice Arnold

    Wish I would have known this six years ago. I am so glad you’ve taken the time to research this! It can be a HUGE step in the right direction!

    • Thanks Candice, I threw this post together hoping to help a few students streamline their path to a college degree without becoming debt slaves. I would love to hear back from someone who actually pulled off such a degree hack. Thanks for reading and please spread the word to our friends in Echols County.

  3. Steveark

    Interesting but I’d recommend mechanical, chemical or electrical engineering at a state school as a higher return on investment. My two engineer kids received free rides with decent, but not spectacular ACT scores because state schools are desperate to keep smart kids in state. Plus the starting pay blows away anything a liberal arts major is likely to find. The cost of the degree is a factor in success but learning something useful in the work world is an even bigger key to prosperity. I’m an engineer as well, and retired early after a career that paid me extremely well to do interesting and fun work.

    • Steveark,
      I can’t argue with your plan using scholarships to pay the way. I avoided undergraduate students loans thanks to a basketball scholarship. I also agree with you that STEM majors deliver bigger paydays in addition to lots of stimulating work. If I were 18 years old today, I’d study information systems or engineering. Thanks for reading, Ed

  4. Hey Ed, I’m glad somebody else is writing about this. My wife earned her college degree via this method from TESU & wrote an ebook about it.

    We went to several curriculum fairs over the summer to talk about it as well.

    As it is non-conventional we got a lot of people that looked at us as if we had three eyes. Seems like there is more receptive response here and hope your own family can utilize this method for at least some of their degree plan.

  5. Steve

    As someone who graduated from Excelsior at the non-traditional age of 49, I too wonder why more kids aren’t looking into this, especially for degrees that don’t require lab work.

    I didn’t use testing as much as originally anticipated, partly due to the nature of my degree (had to renew expired computer info sys credits), and lack of suitable tests. But did manage to bag a semesters worth mostly thru DANTES and DSST, with little or no study (work/life experience really helps).

    The flexibility was terrific, and permitted year round studies anywhere in the US (or even Athabasca University in Canada after they received Middle States accreditation). Surprisingly, I found courses to be very similar in pedagogy and requirements regardless of which part of the country the schools were located.

    Curious though, for those wanting to go onto graduate studies, will prospective schools gag at a degree that used a lot of testing?

    • Steve, thanks for sharing your story and congrats on graduating. This option has flown under the radar for so long, but stories like yours will certainly get the attention of younger students. As for graduate school, I’d say it depends where you apply to. In the U.S. there are lots of good schools that seem ready to take on any students willing to do the work and pay the tuition. However, a degree via testing probably won’t get your into a top-tier graduate program. (I could be wrong on that.) Thanks for reading, Ed

      • Steve

        I had no trouble getting admission to several good quality graduate programs, and enrolled into Columbus State University’s Applied Computer Science (entirely online). But didn’t finish due to subsequent employer’s workloads, and pending early-ish retirement. Liked the less theoretical orientation, and surprisingly modest cost.

        Also found after more research that for software development, graduate education doesn’t appear to pay off much, at least in salary enhancement.

    • Thanks Michael,
      I hope that post helps someone avoid a life of Sallie Mae servitude. High education has gone nuts…don’t do it kids, run! Thanks for reading. Ed

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