Can I graduate early by testing out of college courses?
Hey Dave! A drinking buddy of mine told me that I could test out of some of my college classes, save a ton of money on tuition and get out of school faster. I’m going to Florida International University and would love to graduate faster while saving some dough, but I'm skeptical about this. Is this really true, and if so, how do I go about finding out what courses I can test out of and doing just that?
I've spent more years in college than I want to admit, with a bachelors degree and two master's degrees, but a colleague of mine, Jack Mize, has been focused on just this topic and has built a Web site about testing out of college. Jack's interesting because he actually tested out of three years of college courses in less than ten months using this very credit by examination approach you're asking about. He spent less than $3000 total on tuition, testing fees and study materials. Impressive, non? I forwarded your question along to him and here's what he had to report:
Yes it is true on both counts. Looking at FIU's web site, presuming you are paying in-state tuition, total matriculation fees for the fall and spring semester are $3,314.52 with another $840 estimated for books and supplies (these figures do not include campus housing or meal plans).
FIU awards up to a maximum of 45 credits for scoring at the 50th percentile or higher on CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) tests. There are over 30 CLEP exams available and most will be awarded three credits since the are designed to cover material equal to a one-semester course, although a few can get you six to twelve credits.
For this example let's just assume you will be taking ten three credit exams for the equivalent of a fall and spring semester total of 30 Credits. Each CLEP exam at FIU is $70 ($55 CLEP fee plus $15 FIU proctoring fee) X 10 = $700. That's quite a difference from the $3,314.42 you would spend on tuition.
Another nice thing about CLEP is that study material written specifically for the exams can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of expensive college text books.
As far as saving time, depending on your previous knowledge and study habits, I’ve known students to take two to three exams in a week.
And you definitely don't have to be an expert in the subjects. These exams are meant to measure your knowledge compared to the average college student's after they've taken the classroom equivalent.
If you really want to speed up your degree program and save a lot of money in the process, there are some schools such as Excelsior College in Albany, NY that place no limits on how many credits are awarded by examination. With this option, someone with a little determination could comfortably complete an entire four year bachelors degree in less than 12 months.
Pretty darn cool. I kinda wish I had know about this when I was slogging through four years of undergraduate work in particular. (I admit, I really liked grad school, but that's another story). If you want to learn more about Jack's recommendations for credit by examination testing out of college courses, please check out DegreeWiz.com.
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