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Degree Hack: Cobbling Together Credit Hours For Cheap

timothy posted about a year ago | from the get-a-scholarship-you-kids dept.

Education 368

McGruber writes "The Chronicle of Higher Education has a web episode about Richard Linder, a US college student who was determined to do the impossible: earn a U.S. college degree while not taking on any student debt. Mr. Linder cobbled together an associate degree in liberal arts for a mere $3,000. He did it by transferring academic credits to Excelsior College, a regionally accredited institution that doesn't require students to take any of its own courses. Mr. Linder's earned his transferred credit hours from an array of unexpected sources: from high school Advanced Placement courses to classes taught by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Fire Academy. He even managed to get one credit hour from Microsoft." I find his creativity in breadth and sources of credit-worthy instruction more interesting than the pricetag, though the commenters on the linked story are sharply divided on the value of the courses taken. While $3,000 is cheap for an associate's degree compared to many U.S. colleges, it's not unheard of; tuition for locals at a community college near me wouldn't be too far off that, even without transferring in any credits.

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368 comments

Bullshit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252125)

An "associate degree" is a degree like a PhD is a doctor. Not.

Re:Bullshit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252195)

Here come the degree snobs. "You didn't really get an education unless you paid a fortune for it, like me."

Re:Bullshit (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42252261)

Here come the degree snobs.
"You didn't really get an education unless you paid a fortune for it, like me."

Or

"You didn't really get an education, unless you are massively in debt, like me."

Re:Bullshit (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252313)

I got my PhD without any debt along the way or money from my parents. Go to a good undergrad that gives grants instead of loans to cover most of financial need (the annual price tag was $30+k, but few people actually paid anywhere near that...). Work a summer job to cover the rest, which doubles as gaining experience by working in a lab, etc (which often would be enough to cover most state university programs without any grants). Then most engineering and science programs will pay you to go to graduate school if you work as a TA, or better, as an RA essentially be paid to get your thesis done and papers to pad your resume.

Re:Bullshit (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42252497)

I got my PhD without any debt along the way or money from my parents. Go to a good undergrad that gives grants instead of loans to cover most of financial need (the annual price tag was $30+k, but few people actually paid anywhere near that...). Work a summer job to cover the rest, which doubles as gaining experience by working in a lab, etc (which often would be enough to cover most state university programs without any grants). Then most engineering and science programs will pay you to go to graduate school if you work as a TA, or better, as an RA essentially be paid to get your thesis done and papers to pad your resume.

A friend of mine is having his PhD entirely footed by the university he's performing research work at. How sweet it can be!

Re:Bullshit (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42252317)

Nah. Got a full bachelors of science without debt. No parental help either. Scholarships and grants.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252351)

I understand where your coming from, not to mention the PHD/doctorate comment killed his point, but in this case.. an associate degree in liberal arts? I can't think of a more pointless degree.

Re:Bullshit (5, Funny)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about a year ago | (#42252571)

Quite right! Much better to go for philosophy. You won't be able to get a job but at least you will know "why".

Re:Bullshit (1)

crashumbc (1221174) | about a year ago | (#42252271)

No but you DO get what you pay for in life.

  A Bachelors in Liberal Arts is "almost" worthless in terms getting a job(avg . A associate degree is worth less then less half that...

Re:Bullshit (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42252573)

No but you DO get what you pay for in life.

  A Bachelors in Liberal Arts is "almost" worthless in terms getting a job(avg . A associate degree is worth less then less half that...

Degrees only make the Filters in HR deparments happy when screening job applicants.

I've been on interview committees where we've scanned portfolios and been mildly impressed until we asked a few questions to see how the applicant uses that hard earned knowledge. Beats me how some people get their degrees. Some have been utter frauds. Meanwhile, some of the brightest, most energetic people I've known only have a high school diploma, associates degree, certificate from a technical school or spent some time in the armed forces doing the sort of work which is largely being outsourced by the DoD these days.

It's what you make of it and how you spent your time while pursuing it. On the evening of my 21st birthday I was pulling an all-nighter in the computer lab while my friends were all getting drunk at a party in my honor.

Re:Bullshit (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#42252597)

Depends on how good of a job you want. Many jobs no longer accept a high school diploma as a minimal education and require at least an associate degree. Often they do not care what the degree is, only that the person has one. I know a woman who was kicked out of college that slams into this barrier pretty frequently.

Re:Bullshit (2)

hackula (2596247) | about a year ago | (#42252655)

Liberal Arts will not typically give you a set career path like EE, CS, or Medicine, however, it does give you a real leg up in wide array of business fields. An English major has better chance of getting that marketing rep position (you know, the one where you do nothing but go out to fancy lunches and get hammered with clients all the time), than the CS grad which most HR people assume (incorrectly) directly translates to "borderline autistic". BTW, I definitely do not mean to bash the engineering jobs. I dreaded the thought of a typical "humanities" career path after double majoring in Poli Sci and Philosophy, and ended up in software engineering. Clearly not every employer thought it was worthless...

Re:Bullshit (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42252305)

The bigger a degree, the more interest it'll engender. I've know people who've succeeded with associates degrees, but typically they don't get very far, very quick. The bachelors crowd tends to do a bit better.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252465)

Don't know about that. I dropped out of an associate's degree program, so don't have any degree, and my career is doing just fine. There are plenty of people with the same amount of experience and a bachelor's who are well below me on the career ladder.

Of course, 30 years of experience means it was a different game when I was getting started than it is today, a good degree might well be a necessity if you don't have experience. But in my 30 years and 8 jobs in IT, my education, or lack thereof, has only been brought up once, and I got a job offer from them anyway. (And, yes, every job I've had listed "Bachelor's Degree" as a requirement. It never really matters if you have a solid track record.)

Re:Bullshit (2)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#42252613)

In 30 years it has changed dramatically. Given how common degrees are, many HR departments will simply filter out any resumes that do not have one.

Re:Bullshit (1)

preaction (1526109) | about a year ago | (#42252649)

I dropped out of a BS program, have 6 years of career experience, a dozen years total experience, and have never had a door shut on me (that I know of) due to my lack of "formal" education.

But I also recognize the gaps that a formal education would have filled, and work to educate myself.

A degree is nothing without the ambition, and ambition is everything.

Re:Bullshit (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about a year ago | (#42252541)

I don't know about that? I'd say that there's more of a bell curve in effect here. You can *generally* get further along, faster in the job market with the bachelors than the associates, but those going beyond that to earn masters' degrees often wind up unable to convert them to productive, higher-paying jobs.

There's such as thing as becoming "too educated" for the majority of people to take an interest in hiring you. Sure, it works out great if someone is really seeking the niche you're specialized in and has the money to afford the salary such a position commands. But all too often, it just means the individual spends a LOT of time unemployed or very under-employed.

As just a couple examples I've witnessed myself?

I used to do on-site computer service for a guy with a PhD who had a job proofing science textbooks for a major publishing house. They wound up laying him off and he spent the next year trying to get another job, with no luck. He finally wound up having to sell his house and move to another state just to find employment again - and he took a big loss on the whole thing.

One of my former in-laws had her Masters in Criminal Justice and guess what it got her? She had a job for a while as a prison guard and worked, briefly with someone else running a bail bonds business (which failed when the associate didn't live up to her end of some of the promises she made). I'd say overall, she was far better off never wasting time on that degree.....

Lib Arts Assoc Degree for $3000 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252147)

You might as well have spent the money on hookers and blow. As it is, you've just wasted $3000.

Re:Lib Arts Assoc Degree for $3000 (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#42252527)

You might as well have spent the money on hookers and blow. As it is, you've just wasted $3000.

Yeah..sadly, I have to agree with you.

This 'degree' on your resume...will likely get your application directly filed in the circular filesystem by the HR person who will rapidly go to the next resume with a more 'real' degree....

I'd hire him (5, Insightful)

Captain_Chaos (103843) | about a year ago | (#42252151)

I'd hire this guy in a flash. This kind of stunt shows a level of creativity, commitment and out of the box thinking that's worth more than any college degree.

Re:I'd hire him (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252215)

But he's only got a liberal arts degree!

All kidding aside, I hope he takes this opportunity to start a career fast. Right now he can point to this and say "Look how eager I was to get into the real world and start working - here's a story about it" in interviews, but unless he supplements it with work it might start looking shaky.

Re:I'd hire him (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252277)

Meh, if he were truly eager, he'd take a risk, borrow money from his parents and start a business!

That's the Romneyway.

Re:I'd hire him (-1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#42252243)

I wouldn't consider him for an instant. This just demonstrates poor critical reasoning, valuing a piece of paper acquired by any means over actual subject matter knowledge.

Re:I'd hire him (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#42252275)

The doesn't demonstrate poor critical reasoning. That demonstrates an understanding of the reality of our society...that your resume is thrown away unless it has a degree on it.

Re:I'd hire him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252545)

Not true. I don't have a degree, and I have no problem getting interviews, offers, and jobs. Including an offer that I turned down 2 weeks ago. This company "requires" a degree, and routinely appears on both "Top XX Most Difficult Places to Get Hired" and "Top XX Best Places to Work" type lists.

Yes, their interview process was brutal. Yes, the job listing had "Bachelor's Degree" as an absolute requirement.

Yes, I got a job offer anyway with nothing but my diploma from a small town high school (and 20 years of solid experience).

Re:I'd hire him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252449)

Why? He realized for the get-go that unless you know someone important, most employers require a stupid piece of paper for you to even be considered worth talking to. While I don't know much about this guy, when you consider the dedication, commitment, and discipline it took to complete this project, he probably already acquired the skills he needed to do his desired job from other projects. After all, who wouldn't want to get their desired job without going into massive debt?

Re:I'd hire him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252633)

Thankfully I do not and will never work with or for you. Your inability to see the skill, research and planning involved to pull this together is shameful.

Re:I'd hire him (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42252267)

I'd hire this guy in a flash. This kind of stunt shows a level of creativity, commitment and out of the box thinking that's worth more than any college degree.

Careful ... that's how Microsoft got started.

Re:I'd hire him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252331)

While the "hack" value of this is interesting and speaks of his creativity, it doesn't look good from a critical thinking/planning point of view. I checked some local colleges and the cost of getting the degree is approximately $3,000 -- the same cost as what he paid. So basically he did a lot of extra work and tried to play the system in order to accomplish the same thing if he'd just taken the course. Do you really want to hire someone who insists on doing things the hard, time consuming way?

Re:I'd hire him (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#42252645)

Not only that, but if this school has such lax requirements regarding people having to take classes under its control... I suspect that even though it has accreditation it is probably one warning flags that local managers watch for. They sound pretty sketchy, and sketchy places have a habit of giving out degrees that are rather suspect.

Re:I'd hire him (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42252335)

Yeah. That degree itself doesn't say squat, how he got it shows cleverness and a desire to put effort into a goal, as well as a drive to cost effectiveness.

I'd worry if I hired him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252431)

I'd hire this guy in a flash. This kind of stunt shows a level of creativity, commitment and out of the box thinking that's worth more than any college degree.

His kind of creativity and commitment to his own interests would cause me to wonder if I could keep him challenged with the work that needs to be done. I'd be concerned about maintaining his attention in the advancement of my company. I'd be very worried that he'd lose interest in day-to-day work turn his interest to something else, possibly against the company, and then direct his creativity and commitment towards that, rather than getting the necessary work done.

The more I think about it, the more sure I am that there is sufficient risk to not make hiring him worth the risk. I'd give him a pass because the likelihood of disruption is too high.

I'd be especially interested in hearing the opinions of other business owners, rather than the opinions of workers that fancy themselves to be business experts.

Re:I'd hire him (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | about a year ago | (#42252583)

Have things changed so much in education that this is astounding? I went to va tech (in state) and paid for it and living out of summer job cash as did most of the other engineering students with whom I attended in the late eighties (cool story bro) (tuition was like $2500 per year iirc). Even if the tuition costs have tripled I can't imagine that it's that hard to live of the economy or summer in more lucrative places to save ahead. Va tech at the time was a top twenty overall engineering school .... Unm now is not more expensive than that for undergrad so if you go to public in state schools it's easy and cheap to get bs degrees from four year colleges in the us (and yes, it's hard not to see that and chuckle). With any of those programs you get out of it what you put in to it, as with any degree. I am not promoting four year degrees as necessary or good value inherently, but do intend to compare $3000 for an associate's degree with $10000 for a BS as in favor of the BS for students wanting to be in technical fields and pursue knowledge as sport.

Sounds like it's worth it (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#42252171)

Sounds like it's worth as much as a typical associates degree. We're not exactly setting the bar high, here....

Impossible? (1)

ComfortablyAmbiguous (1740854) | about a year ago | (#42252173)

I struggle with this concept of it being impossible to get an education without taking on student debt. My wife and I finished four year degrees (Engineering and PolySci) and she did law school at an Ivy league with a total of 5,000 in debt. Neither set of parents paid for anything in any significant way. We got together after undergraduate and I had a real job that paid for law school for her, but otherwise it was pretty self supporting. Lots of work was required, and probably less fun, but it is possible.

Not possible any more (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#42252253)

I also finished college with under 10k in debt for a CS degree at a great college.

However look at the tuition for any school now - even working full time there's no way it would be possible to escape any modern college without significant debt.

Something is going to have to give as there are just WAY too many students now who will never be able to pay back the debt they owe. Some might recommend global debt clearing for students but is it really fair to funnel so many taxpayer dollars into colleges who get off scott free for vastly overcharging students?

Re:Not possible any more (1)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year ago | (#42252329)

Well, you could just not use taxpayer dollars. If it's possible to determine which college the student has gone to to collect the debt, how about billing them?

Re:Not possible any more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252357)

If you are a bright student you shouldn't have to pay anything. I finished my PhD having never paid a dime of tuition at any level of my college education. How?. Scholarships and Grants, not the low income kind either, merit based only. There is still a lot of money out there.

Re:Not possible any more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252383)

At some schools, increasing the tuition is just to get money out of people with money or rich parents. Most students don't pay the tuition due to "need" based grants that cover the rest after what the student can pay and a basic federal loan (which can sometimes be skipped if working a job). Raising the tuition just raises the amount of grants most students get, while only making those with money pay more.

Re:Not possible any more (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about a year ago | (#42252479)

How expensive was college when you went?

Re:Not possible any more (1)

ComfortablyAmbiguous (1740854) | about a year ago | (#42252535)

Tuition where I attended was pretty cheap, 5k a year or so. The wife's law school was not cheap, 24k a year. Add living expenses as needed. This was in the early/mid 90s

Re:Not possible any more (1)

borcharc (56372) | about a year ago | (#42252531)

The cost of attendance at the University of Minnesota is $24,718. That includes room, board, tuition, and some expenses. The same student would need at least and extra $3,400 for expenses during summer break based on the schools calculation. A full time job at minimum wage after taxes brings in $12,617.28 if worked year round. If the student qualified for Pell grants, something that most all middle class students wont, he would receive $5,500.00. That would leave $3,200 in loans per year if the student was from a dirt poor family or $8,700 per year short for the average american.

With youth unemployment becoming an increasing problem its hard to say that they can even get such a job as older unemployed workers are crowding them out in the fight for jobs. Middle class families have become so debt ridden by bad economic policies and their own runs of unemployment they are ill equipped to help their kids cover almost $9k per year. My mother was able to pay for college in the early 70's with no loans, no grants, just working full time during the summer. Back then technical colleges were free and cranked out skilled workers. Everything is fucked now.

Re:Not possible any more (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#42252671)

Yeah, but tuition itself only comes out to $12000 a year. Live at home or with relatives in the big city and you can save a lot of money while going to school. If you get together with a few other students and rent out a house, it's often cheaper than paying for residence at the university. Not only that, but the food included at most universities is also overpriced, as well as unhealthy. You'd be better off financially and nutritionally if you just made your own meals.

Re:Not possible any more (1)

jerquiaga (859470) | about a year ago | (#42252547)

I just finished my Master's (graduated last Saturday), and I don't have any debt. It's entirely possible to do, you just have to be willing to work and go to school at the same time (most kids aren't, or can't get a job because they don't have any experience because they weren't willing to work during their undergrad).

Re:Not possible any more (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | about a year ago | (#42252611)

I posted above but with respect to state schools it not. I witness thousands do it every year in my city of half a million.

Re:Impossible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252285)

I struggle with this concept of it being impossible to get an education without taking on student debt. My wife and I finished four year degrees (Engineering and PolySci) and she did law school at an Ivy league with a total of 5,000 in debt. Neither set of parents paid for anything in any significant way. We got together after undergraduate and I had a real job that paid for law school for her, but otherwise it was pretty self supporting.

Lots of work was required, and probably less fun, but it is possible.

Why do all that when you can just sell your soul into debt? It's easier, you get to party more, and you get to cry about it and try to steer public policy towards debt forgiveness because "poor us we jsut wanted to bbe students"

I got a 4 year degree from a non-fancy school, paid my way through, didn't do spring break trips, didn't pay into a fraternity, lived off-campus in a fairly priced location instead of paying inflated on-campus housing, bought my books second hand, and worked while studying. All without debt or mommy & daddy.

Re:Impossible? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42252311)

How many years ago was that?

Even when I went to college the yearly cost exceeded what someone making minimum wage or near it would have for a gross income. Never mind that you also have to eat.

Re:Impossible? (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | about a year ago | (#42252507)

law school at an Ivy league with a total of 5,000 in debt.

Um, Ivy League and other high-end private universities offer insane amounts of tuition assistance to any and all students who manage to get accepted. You don't make it into the Ivy League and leave buried in debt. You're either super-wealthy when you go in, or you're one of the very rare public high school graduates who made the cut and received heavy amounts of financial aid in return.

Re:Impossible? (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about a year ago | (#42252587)

There are a couple possibilities here.

1) You guys really worked the financial aid system. All the Ivies have excellent financial aid systems. They pride themselves on never losing a kid due to his inability to pay, and they've got the brand-name to charge scions of the Kennedy clan enough to cover their own education, plus a full scholarship for some other kid, plus the staff to to teach a bunch of 18-year-olds who suck at paperwork how to apply for said scholarships. They also have large endowments.

Paradoxically this means that kids who actually look for cheap options in schools tend to screw themselves. The place that only charges $8k a year cannot cut it's prices for you no matter how poor you are. And it can't can;t afford a guy whose entire job is to scour the student records for kids who qualify for the Left-Handed Redhead Scholarship.

2) This happened more then a decade ago.

3) You had really, really, really cushy jobs in college. Base cost for the Ivies is currently $30-$40k. That $30k does not include room and board, and if you're earning the cash yourselves you had to pay income tax on it. So you had to have a part-time job in the $50-$60k range.

Lots of Cheap Education (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252175)

You can get a degree for very cheap, even a decent one.
1. Find a good state school
2 Pick a degree and read all the requirements for that degree very carefully.
3. Look in the transfer database for that school. Take every course that can transfer in exactly from a local community college
4. Take the rest of the courses from that state school.

I got my Engineering degree without taking a single general elective from the school. Everything came from online/summer community college courses for 1/4 the price. Most people spend to much at college because they go where it is convenient and they don't pick a degree until the 3rd or 4th year.

Re:Lots of Cheap Education (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about a year ago | (#42252255)

All good points and very doable. Understand that it will take you at least five years to do this.

Re:Lots of Cheap Education (1)

CodingHero (1545185) | about a year ago | (#42252395)

All good points and very doable. Understand that it will take you at least five years to do this.

To be fair, it's becoming more common for the "4-year" Bachelor's degree to take five or more years anyway, at least with engineering.

Re:Lots of Cheap Education (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42252399)

Only if the degree itself would normally take 5 years, which typically only happens when switching majors.

It takes only four years depend on your lifestyle (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about a year ago | (#42252481)

at least for the first two years in a community college, "summer vacation" did not exist in my vocabulary. I managed to crank out 133 semester hours in two years with no student loans.

Re:Lots of Cheap Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252269)

AP courses are also great. At that point it's more of your parents' decision than yours, but going to a school that allows you to take AP English for $50 will get you out of a lot more pain later on. I entered a state school with what amounted to almost three semesters of classes from cramming all the APs I could take in High School. Had I wanted to, I could have graduated with my 4-year degree (Mathematics) in 2 years. Taking lots of AP courses also makes you look good to recruiters, however, so they gave me enough money that I stuck around for the full 4 years, picked up another major, and took some grad courses as well.

Re:Lots of Cheap Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252577)

An some places, the AP tests are free at public schools. Some states (Florida used to at least) give a school more funding if they have more students pass an AP test, so many schools will cover the cost of the AP test if you have some chance of passing.

Additionally, similar programs will cover the cost of taking community college courses while in high school, even a couple books. It is quite easy to be most of the way through a two year degree without spending anything. A few students every year at the high school I went to managed to finish their AA degree before graduating from high school using a combination of that program and AP tests.

Re:Lots of Cheap Education (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42252345)

You can get a degree for very cheap, even a decent one.
1. Find a good state school
2 Pick a degree and read all the requirements for that degree very carefully.
3. Look in the transfer database for that school. Take every course that can transfer in exactly from a local community college
4. Take the rest of the courses from that state school.

I got my Engineering degree without taking a single general elective from the school. Everything came from online/summer community college courses for 1/4 the price. Most people spend to much at college because they go where it is convenient and they don't pick a degree until the 3rd or 4th year.

Or you can find some full-time job in the university so your tuition is largely covered as a fringe benefit, like I did. 2 degrees (c:

Fees and books I still had to foot, but that was insignificant compared to the price of tuition.

I really hadn't though about it before, but that fringe benefit has opened a lot of doors and kept me in wasabi peas for a mighty long time and I never really tallied up the amount in zorkmids my employer footed. Pretty good deal all around. HOYVIN-GLAVIN!

Re:Lots of Cheap Education (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year ago | (#42252387)

Yep.

Actually, the state university I work for, encourages exactly that behavior. Heck, we even encourage students to take lower level major courses offered by the local community colleges, at the CCs. I've heard a few groups talk about getting us out of the lower-level course offerings, and just working with the local CCs since they tend to do it better anyway (we a a research institution, and a lot of our profs don't want to be bothered with lower level stuff).

Re:Lots of Cheap Education (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42252627)

Yep.

Actually, the state university I work for, encourages exactly that behavior. Heck, we even encourage students to take lower level major courses offered by the local community colleges, at the CCs. I've heard a few groups talk about getting us out of the lower-level course offerings, and just working with the local CCs since they tend to do it better anyway (we a a research institution, and a lot of our profs don't want to be bothered with lower level stuff).

Yeah, those JC's and Community Colleges work pretty well. A friend had a full scholarship to Stanford, but found his first semester was not to his liking - sitting in 300+ student lecture halls taking notes while a TA flips through slides and answers questions with an accent so thick he had to ask three times for it to be repeated. Came back home, knocked off his first two years in classes of 20-40 students and then returned to Stanford to finish up.

Scholarships? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252191)

That's how we used to do this in the olden days.

Re:Scholarships? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42252427)

That's how we used to do this in the olden days.

They still exist, but I don't think they cover as much as they once did. Something I became quite aware of was the "Raise The Tuition Through Fees Game" which became quite popular a couple decades back. Higher education realised they could only get away with so much in "Tuition" so they added "high cost fees (for courses requiring an expensive setting or special equipment)", "lab fees", "renoberation fees", "froylavin fees" and "potrzebie fees", which tacked onto tuition began to hurt, particularly as Scholarships and Financial Aid would mostly cover the standard tuition, but were more circumspect about covering fees.

Re:Scholarships? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year ago | (#42252673)

Higher education realised they could only get away with so much in "Tuition" so they added "high cost fees
This. The state schools in my state raised tuition by a multiple of 15 in the last 20 years, but when you add in the fees 20 years ago and the fees now, the net effect is a 30 fold increase in 20 years. Yes, fully half of the cost of attending a class at this school is made up of fees.This is outside of the cost of residence, although a lot of the fees you would think would be tied to residence, like laundry fees, gym fees, etc. No, you pay those, too , even if you live off campus. Unfortunately, a lot of scholarships (for example, the GI dependents bill that my stepson is on) only cover actual tuition, so what was described as a "full ride" when we paid into it, turns out to pay only for tuition up to a certain amount per month, and it is definitely per month. Like when they say $900 a month, they don't mean $10,800 a year. They mean if school started on the 15th, you get $450, so in effect, the bill covers for us around $4,000 a year, which covers around 7.5 credit hours per semester. But, if you only take 7.5 credit hours, they don't pay you on a fulltime basis. Definitely not worth it. Don't pay into the GI Dependent College fund. Better to put the money in a savings account.

Berea College is Free* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252197)

If you are in the lower 40% of income in the US
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berea_College

Re:Berea College is Free* (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#42252227)

Hell, Harvard is free too, if your family makes under $60k (about the 60th percentile). Well, assuming you can get into Harvard.

Re:Berea College is Free* (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#42252463)

Hell, Harvard is free too, if your family makes under $60k (about the 60th percentile). Well, assuming you can get into Harvard.

Yep. One thing to get that free ride, another to have a place to reside during those years (notice how I didn't use the mythical word 'sleep')

UNNECESSARY SEMICOLONS, TIMMY! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252199)

While $3,000 is cheap for an associate's degree compared to many U.S. colleges, it's not unheard of; tuition for locals at a community college near me wouldn't be too far off that, even without transferring in any credits.

Timothy,

Please refrain from your unnecessary misuse of the semicolon. You should have written the sentence above as two sentences.

Yours,
A retired English professor

Re:UNNECESSARY SEMICOLONS, TIMMY! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#42252289)

Welcome to old age.

The word you are looking for is 'Comma', also I was going to put in an unnecessary, gratuitous, run on, comma spliced sentence, just to annoy you, but I decided not too.

Re:UNNECESSARY SEMICOLONS, TIMMY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252539)

The word he is looking for is in fact semicolon. It's like a comma, but with a dot above it. In the quoted text, it appears right after the f in of, and right before the word tuition. You should try it some time, it would have fit perfectly in your sentence right after the word 'Comma' and would have made it grammatically correct.

Re:UNNECESSARY SEMICOLONS, TIMMY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252381)

So, you support trailing prepositions the use of?

Great, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252203)

The sad fact of the matter is that U.S. citizens have to resort to this kind of 'miracle story' bs to get a friggin B.A. degree in the first place. Am I happy for this guy? Hell yes, and good on him for accomplishing his goal. But higher education should not be this hard to come by for people who really want a college education.

Re:Great, but... (1)

jerquiaga (859470) | about a year ago | (#42252591)

Except that he didn't get a BA, it was an Associates degree, which he could have earned for roughly the same price at the local community college.

But will HR accept it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252205)

No, seriously. At lot of resumes from people who went to "colleges" go in the circular file just as well as those of people who did not go to college.

More value then you think (1)

borcharc (56372) | about a year ago | (#42252211)

An associate degree in liberal arts is a highly valuable degree quite contrary to what most posters will say. Most 4 year schools will accept an AA to meet all of the universities general education requirements allowing the student to move on to upper division course work in their interest area. That same course work would need to be completed in your first two years anyway, but would cost at lest 4 times as much. A good student could complete the course work listed in the article in well under an academic year saving both time and money.

Re:More value then you think (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#42252405)

Not that useful for any serous science/engineering/math degree.

Any math or science taken in the _bachelors_ of Liberal Arts program would be remedial for STEM programs. If your not in real Calculus 1st semester you're going to take more then 4 years, just on stacked up prerequisites.

Which leaves you with a little english, history, a foreign language, maybe econ (econ would have been the 'bear' class in the liberal arts track). Maybe 30 credits transferred.

Oh the critics... (1, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42252219)

Let's be honest: You're getting that degree to get a better job and/or shut your parents up. There are no other reasons for the majority of students outside of highly specialized fields like engineering, medicine, or law, where you have to pass a formalized state exam and screwing up can have side effects like, I don't know, people dying. For the rest of us though, there's very little you actually need to learn, and the rest is just fluff you don't care about (and neither does any potential employer). College these days is one giant rip-off created by the rich to enslave the poor under massive debt loads.

Anyone who can find a way around the system has my vote, nay, my standing ovation. The whole system is a joke; it's the result of colleges becoming privatized and profit-orientated. Some things simply shouldn't be... education is one such thing. That's why we're losing ground to every country that didn't take this ass-backwards "free market" approach to education. It's a right, and everybody gets it -- that's how it should be.

Re:Oh the critics... (1)

aristofanes (413195) | about a year ago | (#42252371)

BBC world news has an article today on the student debt in th USA. There is a list of about 40 related articles.
There is not one mention about free university education in some countries...Finland :Germany (grad school) are a couple.I read about Finland in Linus Torvald's book "Just for Fun"

Re:Oh the critics... (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42252517)

Any society that does not enable citizens to persue higher education if they wish fails at civilization. We do not exist merely to eat sleep shit and fuck. No everybody doesn't need to go to college, everybody shouldn't need to or have to go to college. But everybody deserves the chance to better themselves, and society as a whole benefits when they do.

It's deeply troubling that the response to "tuitions are too high" is "not everyone needs to go to college" these days. Education is not a luxury that we can afford to go without, it is civilization itself.

Re:Oh the critics... (2, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#42252663)

Education is still very affordable in most fields for anyone who bothers to take the time to plan it out before committing. The problem stems from people also wanting a big screen TV and all the major consoles at the same time as working for their degree. I can't speak for most other states, but NY's state university system offers a huge range of degrees and the vast majority of the population lives within a short distance of at least one - often more - two-year state school. Four-year state schools are only a little less common and still very affordable.

I went to a four year state school, got a great education, and am almost out of debt after 30 months of paying on loans in spite of making some horrible financial credit card decisions the six months right after school. It's definitely do-able for anyone willing to put forth just a bit of effort... not even exceptional effort, just a bit.

Re:Oh the critics... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252669)

It's a right, and everybody gets it -- that's how it should be.

While I can see the value in considering of ways of funding education, please stop calling education a right. A right is something inherent to the individual, not something that can requires the actions of others. To force others to provide you something is tyranny and to claim something is a right when someone voluntarily provided it, cheapens their sacrifice.

College Should be Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252233)

Education should be a fundamental right and free for the masses. To avoid "rich" folk from getting an advantage over the rest of us, private colleges should be outlawed and only state-run schools allowed. All professors and other instructors should be employed directly by the government with a set pay scale. Less money should be wasted on aesthetics and more focus on instruction. We can also ensure a wider diversity of professors in all majors and ensure quality education for all members of society.

I would also get rid of GPA.If a student doesn't meet minimum requirements, he or she could retake the class until he or she does. All classes are pass/fail and fails would not be recorded on transcripts

We can reduce the cost while improving quality, and most importantly, equality. If an education costs $40,000 regardless of your major and not even the rich can get a different education with better connections, we will all be better off.

Please write to your congressperson today. Until we acheive this level of equality, I will be ashamed of our country's educational system.

Not Impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252235)

I made it all the way to a PhD without a single student loan.

Excelsior College (4, Informative)

whitroth (9367) | about a year ago | (#42252249)

Is not just "regionally" accredited - it falls under the SUNY accreditation, and is a real, valid college degree. I should know: I have a BS from there (or rather, from when it was called Regents' College). You get accredited credits from colleges, accredited tests, etc, and when you have the right point spread, you get your degree. None of this crap from every other college about "oh, well, yes, you took compiler design there, but they have a different *emphasis*, and so we'll only call it an anonymous in-program upper-level elective, and you'll have to take it again", as UT at Austin told me in '91.

There's also no more of this "you have to take the last 30 or 60 credits of your degree *here* (and pay us the money), and those credits aren't transferrable....

It was created in '72 specifically for nursing and... can't remember, another program - students who were in the military, and "yes, we know you're three months from your degree, but Uncle is sending you to Germany for the next two years."

Note this is *not* U of Phoenix, or some such, nor just a "credit bank".

              mark, BS, CIS '95, and proud of it.

Re:Excelsior College (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252355)

Over 8 years ago I earned my degree there and I'm a successful info sec professional. I really could not have gotten in the door without that 4 year degree so I owe a lot to the schools existence. I was a two time college dropout and had a lot of credit hours under my belt. But the third school I enrolled in would not accept all of the credits because i had to earn a certain amount at the school. I can understand since they only exist to make money but I couldn't afford to do that. Luckily I actually lived in upstate NY where Excelsior is based so I was able to learn about their program. You know HR and hiring managers really don't give a crap about what school you went to (in most cases) so I think Excelsior is a great bet to get an education.

AA degree (0)

whitroth (9367) | about a year ago | (#42252257)

Oh, right, and what's wrong with an Associate's degree? You some kind on little snot upper class twit?

            mark

A Worthless degree for only $3000 (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42252281)

Not only is an AA a worthless degree but it only cost him $3000. I guess it is better than spending more on an equally worthless degree.

Thomas Edison State College (NJ) (3, Interesting)

kdataman (1687444) | about a year ago | (#42252299)

When I decided that my music degree wasn't going to give me the career I wanted, I decided to get an accounting degree. I used Thomas Edison State College in NJ which is regionally accredited but was all non-resident at that time. I was able to use CLEP, ACT, and other similar tests to test out of 75 accounting and business credits over 2 years. TESC combined those with my liberal arts credits from my music degree to award my accounting degree. When I went to Trenton State for graduate study I was prepared to explain my degree, but I didn't need to. The admissions person said that they had very good luck with Thomas Edison grads because they knew how to study on their own.

I've got that beat (4, Interesting)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#42252343)

I received a BS in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College without having taken a single college class, for a total of about $600. I took 30 CLEP, DANTE, and Excelsior exams and transferred some military credits.

Amateur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252347)

This guy did it without any courses at all
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Relvas#Academic_qualifications

$3,000 not that impressive (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | about a year ago | (#42252385)

My local JC (Santa Rosa, CA) offers a Liberal Studies Associate Degree that requires 42 units. At $46/unit, that works out to $1,932. Granted you will still need to buy books and things, but I'm not sure what the big deal is with this guy's cobbled together $3k degree. And I've heard that my local JC is considered one of the best in the state.

Much Easier Way - SAT Scores (2)

Corporate T00l (244210) | about a year ago | (#42252391)

The route described in the article is kind of arcane, and he leaves out one of the easiest ways, not just for getting partial funding, but even getting all of your costs funded: High SAT scores.

There are plenty of fully accredited 4-year universities out there who will pay for everything just based on SAT scores or a combination of GPA and SAT scores.

We're talking "Full Ride", like tuition, room, board, and books in many cases:

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/1348012-automatic-full-tuition-full-ridescholarships.html [collegeconfidential.com]

or significant scholarships that can get the net 4-year cost down to varying levels:

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/848226-important-links-automatic-guaranteed-merit-scholarships.html?highlight=automatic [collegeconfidential.com]

All based on quantitative measurements alone.

It's hard to say why Richard Linder went through such obscure means in order to get his credits rather than just studying his ass off for the SAT's, but I suspect the reason why he went for "cheap credits" is where the real untold story is.

doing the impossible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252469)

In state university, hustling for scholarships and a part time job paid for my BS and MS. The PhD was free (excluding the opportunity cost). Total student loans: $0.

Scholarships and the Army (2)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year ago | (#42252575)

Two ways to get a free/cheap post-HS education

1. Smart enough to get a schollarship

2. Join the military.

While in the military, any classes you take in the military at any college, are paid for by the military.(still have to do your duties as a solider in the mean time). University of Phoenix specializes in doing this for soliders.

Two, GI Bill, 3 years of active duty or more, and you get the New GI Bill, which gives you 36 months of education in an accredited school, payed for %100, by the army. in addition the government gives a stipend for living expenses.

Not that big of an achievement. (1)

Westwood0720 (2688917) | about a year ago | (#42252601)

I have two Associates degrees and I found it easier than high school. I also have two Bachelors of Science degrees as well. Harder, yes, but nothing too drastic. I mean, I was still able to commit to gaming on a daily basis. Weekends were filled with four wheeling, wrenching, fishing, and spending time with friends.Finals week was pretty much the only time I had to set time aside to accomplish my work.

IMHO, in today's standards an Associates degree is nothing. I think the time you put in could be better off used by saving funds, starting a business, or establishing your career at an earlier age. I only see and Associate's degree useful if you intend on extending your education to at least Master's degree.

Why so expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252637)

A 2 year degree can be earned for far less from small community college/vocational institutes. The degree would probably be more useful than one cobbled together with no general direction.

A Gateway Degree (2)

GeneralSecretary (1959616) | about a year ago | (#42252639)

I have an Excelsior bachelors degree. It was inexpensive and the credits were cobbled together from all over the place. The main value I got from the degree was that I was able to use it to enter Graduate School. While I learnt a lot of stuff in the course of getting my BS in Liberal Studies, the knowledge I use for my job I got from my Grad School education. It seems to me that this country has a liberal arts based education. To get a bachelors degree you have to take a lot of courses in stuff like languages and social sciences that I was not interested in. I understand that the colleges want students to have a broad educational base, but I feel that that is a decision best left up to the students to decide what they want to learn. I think we should have a more a la carte education system with a vocational focus. We should give more power to the students to let them choose what they want to learn while still giving employers a good idea of the skills that come with a given degree. In essence I used my Excelsior degree to bypass the part of education I didn't like and to focus on the parts I did like. I am grateful to them.

Misguided/Happens all the time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42252653)

I fully believe many college degrees are awarded each term to people who have incurred zero debt (meaning no residual debt after they graduate, not that their degrees didn't cost something), so I find this venture to be entirely unimpressive. I would never hire this guy, because he has prioritized the wrong goal. He should be most interested in obtaining the best education--just as I would expect an employee to provide the best service, not the cheapest. He's wasting time--wasting his life--on minimizing the financial outlay.

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