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  1. #1
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    Nov 2008
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    Default Degree Plan using GREs Ė BS Math Major at Excelsior

    *****Note: Excelsior is currently considering whether to continue to offer GREs for credit. Be sure to check with Excelsior about this opportunity which may still be available! Also check the policies at Charter Oak and Empire State, if you plan to take the Subject GRE for credit.*****

    This is going to take more courage to post than I expected.

    Less than a year ago, I found out that Texas A&M is offering a Master’s in Biostatistics program entirely online. That is the degree that I want so now I just need a Bachelor’s degree and I would like to major in math.

    If I had to create my dream college plan of what I really want to learn at the undergraduate level, this would be it.

    Is it possible that in just these 15 “easy” steps I could have a degree?

    Will Excelsior accept this much testing for credit toward a degree?

    I realize that some of my credits overlap with credits for the GREs (I’m doing that on purpose to make sure I have a good foundation for the GREs) and that I may not get full credit for the GREs, so I may have to plan to take some extra exams. (I also need some computer courses which are prerequisites for the Master’s program.)

    I am planning to study for 1 month for 3 credit tests, 2 months for 6 credit tests, 1 year for GREs, and 2 years while studying for other exams for the 12 credit language tests. I expect this to take at least 5 years to complete. I want to create a good foundation for the Master’s program.

    Any comments would be appreciated. Am I understanding how to put together a degree plan correctly? I feel like I may be missing something important. I will check with Excelsior about my plan, but I wanted to know your thoughts.

    Thank you all for creating such an excellent support network for the college exam process!

    NAP


    Bachelor of Science Degree for Math Major at Excelsior College

    Requirements: 120 credits total with 30 upper level credits

    Written English Requirement: 3 credits

    General Education Requirement: 24 credits
    (I chose the 9/6/9 credit combination of Humanities, Social Sciences/History, Natural Sciences/Math)

    Additional Arts and Sciences Electives: 33 credits
    Total Arts and Sciences: 60 credits with 21 upper level

    ---Major Option (or Depth Requirement 1):
    30-33 credits in single arts and sciences discipline with 15 upper level, plus Research and Writing in the Major (I am going to do this even though it is not required for a Math major so that I will have it as a foundation for the Master’s program.)

    ---Depth Requirement 2:
    12 credits in a single applied professional or arts and sciences discipline with 3 upper level

    ---Area of Focus (optional):
    21 credits in a single applied professional or arts and sciences discipline with 6 upper level

    Applied Professional Credits or Additional Arts and Sciences: 59 credits with 9 upper level, plus Information Literacy 1 credit

    **Note: If enrolling after July 1, 2010, there is a new capstone course requirement for Bachelor's degrees in the school of Liberal Arts.

    My Degree Plan

    English Composition I course – 3 credits *

    Humanities:

    Spanish I course – 4 credits *
    French CLEP – 6/12 credits
    German CLEP – 6/12 credits
    + Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP – 6 credits *
    Research and Writing in the Major EC course – 1 upper-level credit (optional for Math majors and non-majors)

    Social Sciences/History:

    US History I CLEP – 3 credits *
    US History II CLEP – 3 credits *
    + Civil War & Reconstruction DANTES – 3 upper-level credits *
    + American Government CLEP – 3 credits * (political science and does not count toward history depth)
    + may need one more history exam to complete a depth in history

    Natural Sciences/Math:

    College Algebra II course – 3 credits * (unknown if credit overlaps with Math GRE)
    Astronomy DANTES – 3 credits *
    Chemistry CLEP – 6 credits *
    Biology CLEP – 6 credits *
    + Natural Sciences CLEP – 6 credits *
    + College Math CLEP – 6 credits * (credit overlaps with Math GRE)
    PreCalculus CLEP/ALEKS – 3 credits (credit overlaps with Math GRE, using as preparation for Math GRE)
    Calculus CLEP – 3 credits (credit overlaps with Math GRE, using as preparation for Math GRE)
    Statistics DANTES – 3 credits
    + instead may do Intro to Statistics ALEKS – 3 upper-level credits (For non-math majors, this would count towards a depth in Math.)

    Other:

    Information Literacy EC course – 1 credit *
    + new non-credit orientation requirement *

    + NFA Q318 - Fire Service Supervision – 1 credit *
    + NFA Q118 - Community Safety Educators – 1 credit
    + NFA Q137 - Hydraulic Calculations – 1 credit

    *****Note: Excelsior is currently considering whether to continue to offer GREs for credit. Be sure to check with Excelsior about this opportunity which may still be available! Also check the policies at Charter Oak and Empire State, if you plan to take the Subject GRE for credit.*****

    Major Option/Depth 1/Area of Focus:

    Math GRE – up to 33 credits with up to 21 upper level

    Depth 2:

    Biochemistry GRE – up to 30 credits with up to 18 upper level

    Area of Focus/Depth 2:

    Computer Science GRE – up to 30 credits with up to 18 upper level
    + Intro to Computing DANTES – 3 credits * (unknown if credit overlaps with Computer Science GRE)
    + Information Systems & Computer Applications CLEP – 3 credits ** (credit does NOT overlap with Computer Science GRE)
    + Management Information Systems DANTES – 3 upper-level credits ** (credit does NOT overlap with Computer Science GRE)
    + possibly ICDL - up to 7 credits (unknown if credit overlaps with Computer Science GRE or Intro DANTES)
    more computer courses (Basic/C++/Fortran) as prerequisite for master's program (plus could complete a depth in computing)


    How does this look?

    --
    started studying for exams 1/09 with 10 credits from previous coursework
    * = Associate in Science Degree completed 4/10 and conferred 6/10 - http://www.degreeforum.net/excelsior...html#post79686
    ** = done toward Bachelor's degree (total of 66 credits so far!)
    + = add to original plan
    Last edited by NAP; 07-30-2010 at 01:02 PM. Reason: update
    AS in 2010 and BS in 2013 at Excelsior College - Transcripts and Costs

    Next Goal - Sharing Credit-by-Exam* & Graduate School - MS = 8 done + 4 to take = Getting There!!!!!!!!

    Resources Used - 20+ Exams Passed & General GRE

    Practice Tests - Available for CLEP and DSST

    * Link posted with permission from forum admin; thank you!

  2. #2
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    Jul 2008
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    Default

    If you pull this off, you will be my hero. This is probably one of the most difficult road maps I have seen.

    Three foreign languages? Have you considered taking A & I Literature for 6 easier Humanities credits? You could cut out one of the foreign language exams, especially if you pass most of your other exams. Learning three foreign languages as an adult is extraordinarily difficult, especially if you cannot do "immersion", unless you've just had a lifelong interest in being a polyglot. Here's a cool website for that though: Aspiring Polyglot

    I also think that studying for 1-2 months for some of these is too much time. Everyone is different, but I know from a few other messages we have exchanged, plus the fact that you have researched and come up with a plan like this all on your own, goes to show that you have the reasoning and ability to pass a few of these in much less time. If you are planning to study like this for five years, why do you not enroll in a more traditional program? At least that way, you'd be done in four years, and if you qualify for financial aid, which I am just guessing you would, since you are choosing the big credit exams (to save $$?), it could possibly be even cheaper.

    This plan does indeed meet all the current requirements for a B.S. in Math at Excelsior, but it also (almost--3 more SS & History) meets the requirements for a Bachelor of Arts, I think? Have you considered pursuing a B.A. instead? Also, if you do not plan to enroll for five years, the requirements for said degree could change quite a lot in that amount of time. It will take a great deal of personal motivation to stick to such an ambitious plan as this one. Not to mention, the GRE exams are a bit of a dying breed, if you wait 4-5 years, the exam you plan to take may no longer be available when you want to take it.

    Well, I am just playing devil's advocate here, to point out some things you should consider. Don't let anyone tell you it cannot be done. There's always naysayers. Almost everyone who has done something this awesome has had at least one person say they were crazy. It's totally doable, especially given five whole years, and minor adjustments here and there. It just won't be easy, imho. Not easy at all.
    ~~ Alissa~~
    "Whether you think you can or think you canít, youíre right." - - Henry Ford
    DONE:
    BS Liberal Studies, Excelsior College May 2009

    Current website favorite:
    http://www.careeronestop.org/

  3. #3
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    Jun 2008
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    490

    Default I agree

    It could work, and would be amazing to pull off. Alissa is right, you would have the option for a BA rather than BS with so many credits in the arts and sciences. Also, if you were able to earn the full 30 credits in two of the GREs, you could be eligible for a double major, like a double major in Math & Biochemistry. Just be sure the master's program you're thinking about doesn't require a certain number of graded credits- looks like you plan only has 18 so far.

    I think you have an interesting and ambitious plan. Anything is possible with adequate preparation and study. Keep us posted on how this develops!
    B.S., Biology, Excelsior College

  4. #4
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    Nov 2008
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    Default Thank you!

    Hi Alissa and Sunshine!

    Thank you for your excellent responses! Youíve made a lot of good points.

    (Alissa, Iíll reply more to your post later.)

    It is my understanding that a Bachelor of Science degree is the normal route for a Math or Science major compared to a Bachelor of Arts.

    I would love to get a double major! Currently Excelsior does not offer majors in Biochemistry or Computer Science. (Maybe I could request it anyway?) I have been hoping they would offer them as Areas of Focus which I consider to be like minors and would be very happy to have.

    That is a great point. I am extremely low in graded credits - maybe even lower than you think if Statistics overlaps with the Math GRE. I have not seen this requirement in the masterís program but I have not asked about it either. For now, Iím planning to risk it and either find a way into the masterís program or find another program and possibly transfer.

    Thank you for your encouragement. It is wonderful to get wisdom from people who are ahead of me in this process.

    NAP

  5. #5
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    Default

    I think an Area of Focus in Comp. Sci. or Bio Chem. is possible. I just looked in the catalog and it looks like there is a bit more freedom to customize an Area of Focus. I think it's entirely probable that if you request an Area of Focus, you will be able to do that. Computer Information Science is listed as one of the examples in the catalog, and the list says, "this list not exhaustive, consult with an adviser". It looks good for you in that department.

    DSST Statistics doesn't give a letter grade any longer, it is on the new scoring system. It shows up on my status report as a "P". So, according to my count, you only have fifteen graded credits. If you take more DSSTs that are still under the old scoring system, that will get you more letter grades. DSST Principles of Physical Science has some Chemistry.

    I can't wait to see how this works out for you. I am kind of excited about this plan. Very interesting!
    ~~ Alissa~~
    "Whether you think you can or think you canít, youíre right." - - Henry Ford
    DONE:
    BS Liberal Studies, Excelsior College May 2009

    Current website favorite:
    http://www.careeronestop.org/

  6. #6
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    Nov 2008
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    Default

    Hi Alissa!

    Thank you for your stamp of approval. It means a lot to me.

    I have had tons of experience and help creating degree plans. It has been hard for me though to get used to the flexibility that Excelsior offers compared to traditional degree programs. It has also seemed just too good to be true.

    I have made several changes to my plan recently and decided to allow myself to take the exams that interest me the most (languages and astronomy) instead of filling in with them later if I need them. I have never heard the word polyglot before, but apparently I am aspiring to be one. Thanks for the link; Iíll check it out. I have always wanted to learn at least 5 different languages. I wish they offered Italian and a few others in CLEP. I have taken college level Spanish already so I know I can learn it Ė a little bit every day over a long period of time.

    A&I Lit is a great idea. Iíll keep that and a few others of the forumís favorite exams in my back pocket for future use. Since your post, Iíve thought of a few other options which I will post later.

    I would love to go to college! In high school, I would have loved the idea of starting college through CLEP. At 18, I would have loved to attend college and live on campus. My plans for college have not worked out as I had hoped. Now, Iím happy to get my education through exams and have the opportunity to go on to grad school.

    Getting major credit for minimal cost (and saving the money to use toward grad school) was the 1st big draw of the GREs. The more I look at all of my testing options the more I realize these are the subjects I most want to learn about. That is a good point; I hope the GREs I want to take will still be available when Iím ready. If not, Iíll have to regroup when the time comes and maybe I can take a different GRE. Another thing I see is that with the same 1 year time frame I could lock in 3 credits each month through CLEP/DANTES. Studying for a year for a GRE and hoping to get the whole 30 credits is a risk by comparison.

    That is true that requirements do change over time. The math major was just updated, so I hope it will stay the same for a while now. I will plan some extra time at the end of my studies to make adjustments for any requirement changes.

    It is my understanding that a BS is the normal route for a Math or Science major compared to a BA. For instance, a university that I was looking at offers only BS degrees for all of the math, science, and computer related majors except for the math and science majors specifically. Those 2 also have a BA option for people who want to apply them toward humanities and social science areas and the BS option is for people who want to apply them toward math and science areas. Since I want to go on to Biostatistics and use it in the medical field, I assume that a BS would be the choice for me. As a math major, a BA kind of scares me with its added emphasis on arts. Iím surprised to learn that Iím not very far from one in my current plan.

    I like how you worked ambitious, crazy, and exciting into your replies. That is how I feel about it most of the time. Sometimes it seems crazy, but other times I agree that it is an ambitious plan, and I am excited about it. I will need to keep my enthusiasm up, though and guard against burn-out. I expected to be doing this solo, so having the support of this forum has been an unexpected blessing. I also have a goal in mind which will help me to keep going, too.

    Looking again at this new plan, if I include the time to study for the Biology and Chemistry CLEPs in the year of study for the Biochemistry GRE and do the same with the math exams for the Math GRE, this plan may not take as long as I estimated. Weíll see.

    Your advice has been a great reminder for me that I need to stay flexible about time and course/exam planning as I go through this process. As I get more experience with this, I will be able to make adjustments according to how much time it actually takes me to study and which exams make sense to try.

    Thanks so much for everything! That was wonderful of you to look up the Area of Focus info for me, too.

    NAP

  7. #7
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    Nov 2008
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    Default Degree Plan Additions

    Following Alissa’s advice, I’m considering some additions to my degree plan.

    1. Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP (6 credits) – I don’t expect it to be easy for me, but at least it requires minimal study.

    2. American Government CLEP (3 credits) and Civil War & Reconstruction DANTES (3 UL credits) – Since I’m studying for US History I and II, I can see there is some potential overlap with these 2 subjects. Is this true? Does American Government count as History and I’d have a history depth? [Update: American Government is political science and does not count toward a history depth.] Is it too soon to try an Upper Level test on my 3rd or 4th test?

    3. Natural Sciences CLEP (6 credits) – I’m planning to take Astronomy, Biology, and Chemistry. These look like they would be good preparation for Natural Sciences. Does Excelsior say any of the CLEPs such as Biology and Natural Sciences duplicate each other too much and can not both be taken for credit? [Update: All 4 exams are accepted for credit without duplication.]

    4. College Math CLEP (6 credits) – I’m thinking I should take this and get credit for the Math I already know before I go on to higher levels. Since I already have credit for a College Algebra course, can I back up and take College Math? [Update: College Math CLEP was accepted for credit.] Usually with courses at a college, you can’t do this, if you already have a higher level of credit.

    I also have a question about their Math policies:

    Mathematics Restriction on page 17 of the Liberal Arts Catalog says in part - “No more than three courses on the semester-hour system . . . of mathematics credit below the level of calculus may be applied to any degree. Representative titles of math courses below the level of calculus include College Math, College Algebra, Elementary Functions, Modern Math, Fundamentals of Algebra, Trigonometry, and Precalculus.”

    When they changed the requirements for the math major as of January 2007, they included this sentence “Credits earned below the level of calculus will not be applied toward the major but will count toward the overall degree.” This sentence is not in the recent Liberal Arts catalog. [Update: When not using the Math GRE for credit, this policy still seems to be true.]

    The way I read these policies I think I could have credits for College Math (6), College Algebra (3), and Precalculus (3) that would count towards a degree but not a Math major. Is that right? I’m also not sure what level Statistics is considered to be.
    [Update: Statistics does count as math, but it does not count toward the 3 courses below calculus policy. Statistics through ALEKS counts as upper-level credit, and can be used to fulfill a depth in math.]
    [Update: College Math CLEP (6 credits) counts as 2 courses below the level of Calculus. Three levels of math through ALEKS (9 LL credits) plus Statistics through ALEKS (3 UL credits) would be the least expensive way to complete a depth in Math.]

    Please feel free to answer or comment on any of these ideas. It would be really helpful to know more about this.

    Thanks.

    NAP
    Last edited by NAP; 07-30-2010 at 02:02 PM. Reason: updates

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    389

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by NAP
    ...

    I also have a question about their Math policies:

    Mathematics Restriction on page 17 of the Liberal Arts Catalog says in part - ďNo more than three courses on the semester-hour system . . . of mathematics credit below the level of calculus may be applied to any degree. Representative titles of math courses below the level of calculus include College Math, College Algebra, Elementary Functions, Modern Math, Fundamentals of Algebra, Trigonometry, and Precalculus.Ē

    When they changed the requirements for the math major as of January 2007, they included this sentence ďCredits earned below the level of calculus will not be applied toward the major but will count toward the overall degree.Ē This sentence is not in the recent Liberal Arts catalog.

    The way I read these policies I think I could have credits for College Math (6), College Algebra (3), and Precalculus (3) that would count towards a degree but not a Math major. Is that right? Iím also not sure what level Statistics is considered to be.

    ...
    Hi NAP,

    Your assessment of credits for a bachelors at EC majoring in maths is pretty much spot on.

    As the restriction text states, courses/exams below the level of Calculus and above and including the level of College Algebra/Trigonometry will count as elective credits but not satisfy the core requirements of the maths major.

    On page 47 of the liberal arts catalogue the maths major requirements are described. These begin with Calculus.

    Like you, I have some background in maths so was looking at a way of maximising experience and applying it to credits. Therefore, the College Math CLEP which is worth 6 credits, as you pointed out, is a good exam to hit. Any two other maths exams in the precalculus range would be worth 3 credits each so a total of 12 credits to pick up. The Calculus CLEP or equivalent is worth another 3 credits but the only maths major requirement you can satisfy along the basic exam route. After that you're into GRE and B&M territory.

    Statistics courses are treated separately to the precalculus courses and can be taken, at least, for elective credit but not to satisfy core maths major requirements.

    I previously would say I'm just starting out along this, but it's funny how taking a break for a couple of days can easily turn into weeks Might as well start picking up those precalculus exams while you can

    Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Excelsior College 2012
    Master of Arts in International Relations, Staffordshire University, UK - in progress

    Aleks
    All courses taken, 12 credits applied
    CLEP
    A&I Literature (74), Intro Sociology (72), Info Systems and Computer Apps (67), Humanities (70), English Literature (65), American Literature (51), Principles of Mangement (65), Principles of Marketing (71)
    DSST
    Management Information Systems (469), Intro to Computing (461)
    Excelsior College
    Information Literacy, International Terrorism (A), Contemporary Middle East History (A), Discrete Structures (A), Social Science Capstone (A)
    GRE Subject Test
    Psychology (93rd percentile, 750 scaled score)
    Straighterline
    English Composition I&II, Economics I&II, Accounting I&II, General Calculus I, Business Communication

    Progress history

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    2,934

    Default

    Hi irnbru!

    Thank you for confirming this. I didn’t want to read too much into their policies. That is great news that 12 credits are available for this. I didn’t realize that Statistics is counted separately and I can get 3 more credits.

    [Update: Statistics does count as math, but it does not count toward the 3 courses below calculus policy. Statistics through ALEKS counts as upper-level credit, and can be used to fulfill a depth in math.]
    [Update: College Math CLEP (6 credits) counts as 2 courses below the level of Calculus. Three levels of math through ALEKS (9 LL credits) plus Statistics through ALEKS (3 UL credits) would be the least expensive way to complete a depth in Math.]

    Are you considering a Math major at Excelsior? I am planning to pursue it through the Math GRE.

    Thanks again.

    NAP
    Last edited by NAP; 07-30-2010 at 02:02 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    389

    Default

    Ready for your CLEP exam?

    Study for your exam using the same CLEP Study Guides used by thousands of members of this discussion forum!


    I think it's pretty awesome that you're shooting for the maths major at any college, NAP.

    Right now, I'm aiming at an associate degree in the liberal arts. No solid decision on any of the 'big 3' and certainly not looking at GREs. You may be interested to know the International/European Computer Driving License (ICDL/ECDL) is worth 7 credits at EC.

    Being based in the UK, and in Scotland, there are two CLEP/DSST test centres, both significant distances away, so ALEKS is a motivational godsend, really

    Good luck

    Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Excelsior College 2012
    Master of Arts in International Relations, Staffordshire University, UK - in progress

    Aleks
    All courses taken, 12 credits applied
    CLEP
    A&I Literature (74), Intro Sociology (72), Info Systems and Computer Apps (67), Humanities (70), English Literature (65), American Literature (51), Principles of Mangement (65), Principles of Marketing (71)
    DSST
    Management Information Systems (469), Intro to Computing (461)
    Excelsior College
    Information Literacy, International Terrorism (A), Contemporary Middle East History (A), Discrete Structures (A), Social Science Capstone (A)
    GRE Subject Test
    Psychology (93rd percentile, 750 scaled score)
    Straighterline
    English Composition I&II, Economics I&II, Accounting I&II, General Calculus I, Business Communication

    Progress history

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