This is the follow-up post you’ve been waiting for! Last week I told you about the West Virginia Community College System’s little secret: CHEAP and FAST associate degrees for adults with at least 12 previously earned college credits from a Regionally Accredited college (I mistakenly said 15 in my original post, you only need 12!). The cost? Nothing….. but wait. Let’s talk.
First, know that this is a totally legitimate Regionally Accredited Associate’s degree through a community college in West Virginia. Pierpont Community and Technical College is not the only college in the country that offers a Board of Governor’s Associate of Applied Science degree – many do. In fact, your local community college may. A Board of Governor’s degree is simply a traditional college’s way of going around a college’s traditional requirements to encourage adult learners to return to school, or to allow those with non-traditional credit to complete a degree.
Since I’m organizing a degree plan through Pierpont for a friend, my research is specific to Pierpont. We had a lot of interest on the Facebook group about this degree, so I’m thrilled to bring this to you!
I am told that all of the West Virginia Community Colleges offer BOG – AAS degrees, however, not all are as easy to complete as this one, which is why I selected Pierpont. There are many adults pursuing this specific degree over on InstantCert, so you can also visit that forum and read some first-hand experiences.
Is Pierpont’s BOG – AAS a good fit for you?
- Did you graduate high school /earn a GED at least 2 years ago?
- Do you have at least 12 graded college credits earned through a Regionally Accredited college? They can be online or in-seat, but if you don’t have them, you’ll have to complete them somewhere. You can do it anywhere or Pierpont.
As you can see, this is a program focused on attracting the adult learner who may have left college or the military and wants to finish their degree. So, what’s the catch?
Not a “catch” but a limitation. This is an Associate’s of Applied Science degree- which means it’s not meant to transfer perfectly into a 4-year program, however, if you attend a West Virginia-based public 4-year college or university, they have an articulation agreement that allows a perfect block transfer. In other words, if your goal is to earn a 4-year degree, you’re going to want to look at West Virginia public colleges. If you intend on attending in a different state or a private college, a transfer may be limited or significantly restricted and not result in a 60 credit transfer. This degree is best suited to someone who is satisfied with only an Associate’s degree, or who wouldn’t object to attending a WV public university. (Yes, online is an option too).
The cost to complete this degree through Pierpont is $0. Meaning, they don’t charge you anything to apply, anything to transfer, or anything to graduate. You can literally transfer in 100% of your credits and be awarded a degree.
If you don’t have all of the credits you need, you’ll have to pay for them yourself, but the good news is that you can control those costs and cash flow the whole thing for very little out of pocket cost. Since they accept all military, CLEP, DSST, AP, and ACE credit, you can choose the way you earn those credits. As an example, you can use Straighterline (a program my 10th grader used last school year to earn 39 credits for $1200) For someone that only needs 3 or 4 courses, you could simply take CLEP exams ($100 each).
Since there is no way for me to know what credit you already have or where they will fall on the degree template, it’s hard to estimate costs that apply to all of you, but, you can use this generic tool to help give you an idea. (YOUR COSTS may differ)
60 credits REQUIRED for this degree
Subtract the number of credits you already have from all sources including CLEP, ACE, etc. Be sure you already have at least 12 college credits from a Regionally Accredited college!
11 10 (the number of free credits you’ll earn from the options below)
= the number of credits to pay for.
If you use the resources in this post, you can earn the rest of your college credits for about $33 per credit, so multiply the number left to earn x $33 to get a rough idea.
If you have 12 left to earn = $396
If you have 24 left to earn = $792
If you have 36 left to earn = $1188
The cost examples you see are the “all in” costs from application to graduation. You can see why this is so exciting!! The average Associate’s Degree in the United States can cost between $10,000 and $30,000.
If you do not already have 12 college credits from a Regionally Accredited College, your costs will be more. If you live outside of West Virginia and want to take classes at Pierpont, their tuition is $432 per credit, which is the LEAST cost effective way to complete this degree. Look at your local community college first, where you may be able to complete your courses for closer to $100 per credit.
A credit distribution explains where your credits have to fall in order to meet a degree’s requirements. In other words, the degree requires 60 credits, but you don’t meet that requirement by simply having 60 credits. You have to distribute credit into the right slots. it doesn’t matter where your existing 12 credits fit into this distribution, only that you have them in there somewhere. NOTE: You have to have English 101 credit, either by course or exam. Everything else is undesignated. In other words, you can choose ANY course from a category.
NOTE 1: It doesn’t matter where your pre-existing 12+ credits fit into this distribution, only that you have them in there somewhere.
NOTE 2: You have to have English 101 credit, either by course or exam. Everything else is undesignated. In other words, you can choose ANY course from a category.
|6 Credits Communication
||English 101 (or similar)
Any 3 cr. English or Communication
|6 Credits Math or Science
||Any 3 cr. Math or Science
Any 3 cr. Math or Science
|6 Credits Social Sciences
||Any 3 cr. Social Science
Any 3 cr. Social Science
|3 Credits Computer Literacy
||Any 3 cr. Computer Literacy
|39 College Credits
COOL THING TO NOTE: If you have 15 or more credits in one subject, you’ll be awarded an Area of Study on your transcript.
WARNING: I need to emphasize that the courses below meet all of the specified requirements set by the college and should transfer seamlessly.
Still, it is a wise investment of your time to reach out to the program advisor and discuss your degree plan in advance of earning tons of credit independently.
Director of Assessment, Advising & Testing
Associate Professor of Academic Studies
Ways to Earn Free ACE Credit
If you have enough space in the “39 credit” category, you can pick up
11 10 college credits totally free through the following ACE sources open to anyone!
This list was generously assembled by the members of InstantCert. Members there have successfully applied these
11 10 credits to this degree. NOTE: You will have to open an ACE account to collect and hold your ACE credit. ACE is a third party credit evaluator, it’s necessary in order to turn your work into actual college credit.
Don’t be intimidated by this step – I made a video to walk you through the process.
(2 Credits) The Institutes
The American Institute For Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (commonly referred to as “The Institutes”) offer a free ethics course that is ACE recommended for 2 credits.
- 312N-H Ethics and the CPCU Code of Professional Conduct (2 credits) – an upper level ethics/philosophy course that meet’s TESU‘s General Education “ethics” requirement (you might have to ask for an exception to be made for the last credit, but typically this is automatically granted. The 3rd credit is to be made up as a general ed elective).
To signup, use the following link: http://www.theinstitutes.org/comet/learning_modules/cpcu_ethics.htm
Select the FREE option. You should not do the $5 option. The paid option is for “Continuing Education credit,” which is different than college credit. The free version is ACE approved for college credit.
2 Credits 1 Credit) National Fire Academy
The National Emergency Training Center/National Fire Academy (NFA) offers two free courses that are ACE-recommended for 1 credit each.
Q0118 Self-Study Course for Community Safety Educators (1 credit) currently not available for college credit, but if it is renewed, I’ll add it back in.
- Q0318 Fire Service Supervision: Self Study (1 credit)
To signup, use the following link and find the course code in the list, Q0318: http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/nfacourses/catalog/search?&&forget=true&courseCode=Q
After you are enrolled, use this login URL to take the classes: https://nfa.plateau.com/learning/user/login.jsp
(1 Credit) Sophia – Developing Effective Teams
Sophia offers a number of paid ACE-approved courses that are fairly expensive. However, they do offer a free 1 credit course:
- SOPH-0021 – Developing Effective Teams (1 credit)
You can sign up for the course at https://www.sophia.org/online-courses/developing-effective-teams
(6 Credits) TEEX Cybersecurity
Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) offers three ACE-approved courses recommended for 2 credits each. These are DHS/FEMA funded and therefore free for the general public to take.
- Cyber 101 – Cybersecurity for Everyone (2 credits)
- Cyber 201 – Cybersecurity for IT Professionals (2 credits)
- Cyber 301 – Cybersecurity for Business Professionals (2 credits)
To signup, use the following link and make sure you sign up for all classes under these three headings, there are multiple courses per heading: Cyber 101, 201, 301: https://teex.org/Pages/Program.aspx?catID=607
After you are enrolled, use this login URL to take the classes: https://my.teex.org
Ways to Earn Low-Cost ACE Credit
There are a handful of popular ACE credit sources. You may have already heard of a few of them: Saylor Academy, Study.com, Straighterline, Sophia, Shmoop, Davar/Tor, ed4Credit, EdX, and Pearson. Honestly, it’s impossible for me to go through each of these and provide a full list of options, but know that there are MANY and if the course is ACE evaluated, it’s accepted. For the sake of keeping this post concise, I want to emphasize 2 providers: Saylor Academy and Straighterline.
If you can pass a really tough exam, Saylor Academy is THE cheapest option for Communications, Math, Science, Social Science, and Other. I don’t know the exact pass rate for each, but I know a lot of good testers who couldn’t pass these exams or barely passed- still, I want to tell you about them because they only cost $25 each (proctored at home via webcam) and for $25, that’s only $8.33 per credit – without leaving your house! So, if your budget is tighter than tight if you’re a good test taker, and you’re up for a challenge, I think you should give one a try. You can choose courses from this list that have an ACE# next to them. Note, I don’t suggest their Sociology or Psychology since they are not a full 3 credits each. But, you can still use them, but you’ll need to make up the difference with another course.
Saylor Coures Matched to the Credit Distribution
- COMM001: Principles Of Human Communication
MATH or SCIENCE:
- BIO101: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology
- CHEM101: General Chemistry I
- MA001: College Algebra
- MA005: Calculus I
- MA121: Introduction to Statistics
- PHYS101: Introduction to Mechanics
- PHYS102: Introduction to Electromagnetism
- ECON101: Principles of Microeconomics
- ECON102: Principles of Macroeconomics
- POLSC101: Introduction to Political Science
- POLSC221: Introduction to Comparative Politics
- ENVS203: Environmental Ethics, Justice & World Views (while this does have a science prefix, it has been ACE evaluated a philosophy course – not science)
- BUS101: Introduction to Business
- BUS103: Introduction to Financial Accounting
- BUS105: Managerial Accounting
- BUS203: Principles of Marketing
- BUS206: Management Information Systems
- BUS205: Business Law and Ethics
- BUS208: Principles of Management
- BUS210: Corporate Communication
- BUS303: Strategic Information Technology
- CS102: Introduction to Computer Science II
- CS302: Software Engineering
- CS402: Computer Communications and Networks
- PHIL103: Moral and Political Philosophy
Straighterline is cost-effective when you work quickly, and the way to work quickly is to skip the lessons. I would never suggest that to my teens (I make them do every lesson!) but the tests and quizzes are what make up your grades, and all of the test content comes from the free ebook – not the lesson. Really, it’s your decision.
I wrote a really long post on how to select Straighterline courses. The strategy I use is a good one, and I highly suggest you read it before signing up. Also, Straighterline ALWAYS has coupon codes running. You can find my coupon list here.
To keep things simple, any Straighterline course can be used. Most of the courses cost $59 before coupon and require a $99/month membership fee. An adult focused on the tests (skipping the lessons) can complete 1 course per week comfortably. If you really grind, you can complete 2 per week, but you won’t have a social life. Since you’re paying a monthly fee, you want to try and complete ALL your Straighterline courses in 1 month (or 2 at the most).
TIP: when using coupons at Straighterline, purchase your courses in individual transactions. This allows the “1 coupon per transaction” to reset with each purchase.
Cost for Straighterline: $99 (1-month membership) plus course ($59 average with a $50 off coupon = $9 per course) The minimum cost for 1 course will be $108, but every course AFTER that initial membership fee is whatever you pay for the class! So, if you can use 3 more coupon codes, you can get 3 more courses for $9 each = $27!
TIP: You can start and stop your Straighterline membership without losing your place in your courses. My oldest son took a 2-year hiatus and picked up where he left off!
Credit by Exam
Credit by exam allows you to study for a subject on your own using whatever resources you can pull together, and then take a multiple choice exam on the subject. If you pass, you earn college credit in the subject. The two big exam brands you’ll want to look at are CLEP and DSST. If you follow Homeschooling for College Credit on Facebook or this blog, you’ve probably seen my What is CLEP? video and my suggested study resources. If not, it’s worth looking at, because it will open an entire world of credit earning options to you! In short, I want to help you assign CLEP and DSST exams to their proper category. See the table below:
Introductory Business Law
Principles of Management
Principles of Marketing
Analyzing and Interpreting Lit.
|Business Ethics and Society
Introduction to Business
Money and Banking
Principles of Finance
Principles of Supervision
Ethics in America
Introduction to World Religions
||Advanced English Composition
History of the United States I
History of the United States II
Human Growth and Development*
Introduction to Educational Psychology
Principles of Macroeconomics
Principles of Microeconomics
Social Sciences and History
Western Civilization I
Western Civilization II
|A History of the Vietnam War
Art of the Western World
The Civil War and Reconstruction
Foundations of Education
Fundamentals of Counseling
Lifespan Developmental Psychology*
History of the Soviet Union
|Math & Science
|Fundamentals of College Algebra
Math for Liberal Arts
Principles of Statistics
Principles of Physical Science I
|Computing and Information Technology
Management Information Systems
*choose one but not both
How Do I Begin?
You can contact Pierpont directly to begin the process. Since I know many of you have questions about your credit and will want to connect with others working this plan, I have created a Facebook group for this specific purpose.
Pierpont BOGgers will be a special group specifically for Homeschooling for College Credit members who are working on the Pierpont BOG Associate degree. In the group, you’ll be able to ask questions of others and contribute to the working body of knowledge that is shared here and passed out to the other members who would like to complete this degree. The group will “open” for membership on 9/10/2017 and will remain active as long as we have an interest.