DIY/Hacking a Degree

cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
Hey All,

Back after some time off. As many of you know, I relocated to Baton Rouge, LA from New Jersey about 8 months ago. Long story short, I have left the company I relocated for. Too many issues with the company, too many hours and not enough compensation. Plus they had a real problem with family issues. Either way, re-entered the world of consulting, picked up 2 full time jobs and I am much happier. Plus I am back to working from home again full time.

Now the reason for my post....Time to get my degree.

I have seriously considered the new route of building a Do It Yourself degree by taking a bunch of credits through Saylor, StraighterLine, MOOCs, and PLAs, and certifications. Looking to then transfer these credits in to a school like WGU or Excelsior.

Has anyone gone through a process like this? Just looking for some opinions or experiences.

THanks,

Corey

Comments

  • GorbyGorby Posts: 141Member
    Your working 2 full-time jobs and working at home?
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Yep. Two fulltime remote jobs. Love it. Been doing that most of the past 5 years.
  • Cisc0kiddCisc0kidd Posts: 250Member
    cknapp78 wrote: »
    Yep. Two fulltime remote jobs. Love it. Been doing that most of the past 5 years.

    Wow! I wish I had that kind of energy. Kudos.
  • petedudepetedude Posts: 1,510Member
    I've done the transfer-in thing to wrap a degree and start another.

    OP, you've obviously heard of WGU and Excelsior. There are other options. The "Big 3" of transfer schools are Excelsior, Thomas Edison State College and Charter Oak State College. CLEP Forum - CLEP Study - CLEP Testing - Study Guide and Strategies is an excellent resource for these.

    There are a number of schools in the US that will offer you three years' in transfer for an Associate's. WGU is one of them, Southwestern College in Winfield, KS is another. Athabasca U in Canada has similar policies.

    It can be a very liberating process. You cherry pick what courses/methodologies you want to use to earn credits (as long as they're accredited, essentially). This may mean CLEPs, DSSTs, community college courses, etc. If you can self-study (e.g. for a CLEP exam), you may find it saves you time as well as money, not to mention gives you the freedom to pick when/where/how you study.

    Best general advice for the "Big 3" transfer schools: finish to within your last semester (or so) THEN apply/pay for entry.
    Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
    --Will Rogers
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Cisc0kidd wrote: »
    Wow! I wish I had that kind of energy. Kudos.

    Wouldn't say I always have the energy but you do what you have to in order to support your family right?
  • Cisc0kiddCisc0kidd Posts: 250Member
    petedude wrote: »
    I've done the transfer-in thing to wrap a degree and start another.

    OP, you've obviously heard of WGU and Excelsior. There are other options. The "Big 3" of transfer schools are Excelsior, Thomas Edison State College and Charter Oak State College. CLEP Forum - CLEP Study - CLEP Testing - Study Guide and Strategies is an excellent resource for these.

    There are a number of schools in the US that will offer you three years' in transfer for an Associate's. WGU is one of them, Southwestern College in Winfield, KS is another. Athabasca U in Canada has similar policies.

    It can be a very liberating process. You cherry pick what courses/methodologies you want to use to earn credits (as long as they're accredited, essentially). This may mean CLEPs, DSSTs, community college courses, etc. If you can self-study (e.g. for a CLEP exam), you may find it saves you time as well as money, not to mention gives you the freedom to pick when/where/how you study.

    Best general advice for the "Big 3" transfer schools: finish to within your last semester (or so) THEN apply/pay for entry.

    I am very familar with the big three and transfer programs. But, you have me confused with idea of getting 3 years of credit for a 2 year degree. I had a 2 year degree plus additional credits (probably about 1 years worth). WGU gave me 2 years worth credit which I am quite happy with. Can you explain more of what you meant? Thanks.
  • Cisc0kiddCisc0kidd Posts: 250Member
    cknapp78 wrote: »
    Wouldn't say I always have the energy but you do what you have to in order to support your family right?

    What you are doing is something a lot of people could not do. I applaud that.
  • GorbyGorby Posts: 141Member
    cknapp78 wrote: »
    Yep. Two fulltime remote jobs. Love it. Been doing that most of the past 5 years.

    I am contemplating doing another job full time. .but I don't see how I can do it in the long term without burn out. I definitely respect anyone who can do 2 full time jobs for 16 hours a day.
  • petedudepetedude Posts: 1,510Member
    Cisc0kidd wrote: »
    I am very familar with the big three and transfer programs. But, you have me confused with idea of getting 3 years of credit for a 2 year degree. I had a 2 year degree plus additional credits (probably about 1 years worth). WGU gave me 2 years worth credit which I am quite happy with. Can you explain more of what you meant? Thanks.

    Exactly how it sounds, as shocking as it may be for some. :)

    When you transfer with an Associate's to these schools, you only have to complete your last ("senior") year, which is usually majors coursework. For example, with WGU, you only take IT courses and maybe a smidgen of general education/business coursework. For most people, that's a year left. It's not just faster, it's also cheaper-- one less year of tuition, books, etc. to worry about.

    I guess they figure if you actually have an Associate's degree, you've done enough General Ed.

    *To add names to the list: If memory serves, Regis University and Webster University have that "3 years for an Associate's" as well.
    Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
    --Will Rogers
  • Cisc0kiddCisc0kidd Posts: 250Member
    petedude wrote: »
    Exactly how it sounds, as shocking as it may be for some. :)

    When you transfer with an Associate's to these schools, you only have to complete your last ("senior") year, which is usually majors coursework. For example, with WGU, you only take IT courses and maybe a smidgen of general education/business coursework. For most people, that's a year left. It's not just faster, it's also cheaper-- one less year of tuition, books, etc. to worry about.

    I guess they figure if you actually have andifference aiate's degree, e enough General Ed.

    *To add names to the list: If memory serves, Regis University and Webster University have that "3 years for an Associate's" as well.

    What you are writing still makes no sesnse. Yes, WGU gave me credit for all general ed. ie 2 years of credits. Yes, I had 3 certs they gave me credit for in addition. Yes, I still need to finish most of the major requirements ie just under 2 years of credit. I know of no college or university that will give you 3 years of credits when transfer in 2 years of credits. Now some countries outside the US have 3 year college degrees but I don't think that is what you are talking about. Maybe you are confused by the differing credits awarded by different schools? IE some associate degrees are 60 credits and some are 90 credits. Trimester vs semester schools?
  • ClmClm CISSP | CCSK | AWS x 4 | ITIL | Network+ | + More Posts: 439Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Cisc0kidd i think they are trying to say because wgu is a meat and potatoes school if you come in with a AA you dont have to do nothing but you it classes rather some more electives and other things that are not to important and most people finish there degree in a year
    I find your lack of Cloud Security Disturbing!!!!!!!!!
    Connect with me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/myerscraig


  • AverageJoeAverageJoe Posts: 264Member
    Being able to finish in a year is very different from being granted 3 years of credit for a 2-year program. I don't think any of the accreditation bodies would allow a transfer program that magically changes 60 credits to 90. After transferring in your 60 credits you may well be able to finish in about a year, but not because they accepted your transfer as more credits than you already earned.
  • Cisc0kiddCisc0kidd Posts: 250Member
    Clm wrote: »
    Cisc0kidd i think they are trying to say because wgu is a meat and potatoes school if you come in with a AA you dont have to do nothing but you it classes rather some more electives and other things that are not to important and most people finish there degree in a year

    No. Peterdude is saying several schools will give you 3 years of credits when you transfer in a 2 years degree. I know of no school that does that including the ones he mentioned. Perhaps I am misunderstanding him. Perhaps he believes general ed. classes equal 3 years of credits. Generally that is not true. Many schools will give you 2 years of credit and satisfy all lower division or general ed. requirements for an associates. Perhaps that is what Peterdude meant.
  • BlackBeretBlackBeret Posts: 684Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    After looking at the top 3, the one I went with was Excelsior. The overall cost was cheaper for me. The situation is different for each person and how many credits you're transferring in. Excelsior requires that you take at least 2 classes with them for the online program. 1 is titled something like technology literacy, 2. is the capstone course for the degree. Both can be taken concurrently and in the 5 week format or the 15 week format. Both are easy enough.

    Charter Oak and Thomas Edison I looked at, but both would have cost me more money. One of them would have let me transfer my credits without taking any classes from them, but the cost would have been around $5,000. My total cost with Excelsior was around $1200, including taking the classes.

    If you're going to take more than 30 credit hours for your bachelors degree, then look at other schools as well. These are the "Big 3" for transfers because these 3 don't have a minimum "residency course" requirement. Most schools only require 30 credits hours to be completed with them.

    As far as a DIY degree, Excelsior works well with this type of set up. You can go through their online catalogs now and see what you would need to meet their requirements for any of the existing programs. If you're military (or vet) they do current transcript evaluations for free as well.
  • gbdavidxgbdavidx Posts: 840Member
    What kind of jobs do you look for that allow telecommute? I am super jealous of people always being able to work from home
  • petedudepetedude Posts: 1,510Member
    Cisc0kidd wrote: »
    . . .Many schools will give you 2 years of credit and satisfy all lower division or general ed. requirements for an associates. Perhaps that is what Peterdude meant.

    That's what it works out to. In other cases, they're simply waiving course requirements. Some people get hung up over the calendar, but if a school is willing to let you satisfy what would have been the same as 3 years worth of general education with an associates it's kinda like getting three years for two. In most programs, the major coursework is only one year worth of school. Again, it works out to three years' finished with your associates if you've "satisfied" lower division requirements.

    I've checked a few of the schools I remembered, and fewer are doing this lately. Quite probably the accreditors have cracked down. It also seems WGU requires more general ed than in the past.
    BlackBeret wrote: »
    After looking at the top 3, the one I went with was Excelsior. . .

    Excelsior was a big help to me when I wanted to wrap my associate's. I had already accumulated about a year worth of community college credits, but kept washing out every time I tried to go back. I was able to take those credits and earn enough through other coursework to finish. They gave me a much nicer diploma than most places too-- leather case and everything.

    After that, it was on to WGU for my bachelor's.
    Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
    --Will Rogers
  • Cisc0kiddCisc0kidd Posts: 250Member
    Maybe I am mistaken but most programs I am familar with require 2 years of credit in the major. My WGU program for example does that. Certainly satisfying all general ed. requirements with most any associates is an INCREDIBLE help.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Gorby wrote: »
    I am contemplating doing another job full time. .but I don't see how I can do it in the long term without burn out. I definitely respect anyone who can do 2 full time jobs for 16 hours a day.

    Thankfully I am only working about 12-15 hours a day for the most part. Some of the work I get to do on the weekends. I specialize in Messaging and Active Directory buildouts and migrations so alot of the hours are offhours. I may work 8-9 hours during the day and then have to work 4 hours overnight while I am doing migrations. Took me about a month to get used to my schedule but I worked it out with my employers where I work for 3-4 hours straight and then I take a 2 hour break. So all told I get to be billable for about 14-15 hours per day during the week and I get to fill in the remainder of the work owed over the weekend.

    Allows me to get about 6 hours of sleep per day. The hard part was learning how to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Cisc0kidd wrote: »
    What you are doing is something a lot of people could not do. I applaud that.


    Appreciate it. Thanks.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    gbdavidx wrote: »
    What kind of jobs do you look for that allow telecommute? I am super jealous of people always being able to work from home

    I do alot of 3-6 month jobs involving Exchange, Lync and AD migrations. I also managed to pick up a contract with a former employer I worked with in NJ who wanted me back after I left for Louisiana. They found out I had left my employer down here and picked me back up within 3 days. Was initially for a 3 month stint but after the contract expired they just picked me up as a long term consultant since they have project work planned out for the next 18-24 months.

    Funny thing is that most of the work I get as remote work comes to me instead of me having to look for it. I guess since I have done it for so long and it reflects that in my resume, employers seek me out.

    The one things that I can't recommend highly enough is to try and work in a low cost of living area if you will be a contractor. When I was in NJ things were ridiculously hard with being out of work or changing contracts 2-3 times a year. Moving to Louisiana was a godsend since I pay about 40% of what I did in NJ. After 3 months, I paid my apartment complex a full year of rent up front just so I wouldn't have to worry about paying rent in case of some down time.

    2nd thing is to make sure you are getting national rates for your contract work. Most of the Sr. Level Messaging Architect jobs here in the Louisiana area only pay about 85K per year Max. But if you work as a contractor for clients in NJ, NY, Chicago, California, you can make 75-80 per hour.

    Also you need to be open to some travel. I usually travel less than 10% of the year but you still need to be open to the fact that migrations usually involve some kind of onsite time in the beginning and end of the project. If it is with a client I have worked with in the past, usually we skip the travel or cut it back some since they already know me.

    Let me know if you have anymore questions.

    Corey
  • mokaibamokaiba Posts: 162Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Gorby wrote: »
    I am contemplating doing another job full time. .but I don't see how I can do it in the long term without burn out. I definitely respect anyone who can do 2 full time jobs for 16 hours a day.


    Two full times plus full time school...nah too much.

    One full time plus one part time and full time school...acceptable.

    Now, just to get one of the part times to actually call me (trying to get much needed experience in newly acquired certs).
  • supergsuperg Posts: 14Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    cknapp78 wrote: »
    Hey All,

    Back after some time off. As many of you know, I relocated to Baton Rouge, LA from New Jersey about 8 months ago. Long story short, I have left the company I relocated for. Too many issues with the company, too many hours and not enough compensation. Plus they had a real problem with family issues. Either way, re-entered the world of consulting, picked up 2 full time jobs and I am much happier. Plus I am back to working from home again full time.

    Now the reason for my post....Time to get my degree.

    I have seriously considered the new route of building a Do It Yourself degree by taking a bunch of credits through Saylor, StraighterLine, MOOCs, and PLAs, and certifications. Looking to then transfer these credits in to a school like WGU or Excelsior.

    Has anyone gone through a process like this? Just looking for some opinions or experiences.

    THanks,

    Corey

    As with most things in life, the answer really depends on your goals. I'd first decide on a degree and obtain a solid understanding about credit transfer limitations with each institution under consideration. I'd talk with each prospective school to determine which ones, if any, have hard limits on the amount of credits which can be transferred or minimum credits which much be earned at that particular institution, etc. All things being equal, WGU is probably more accredited than other comparable options-- which may or may not matter depending on whether or not you want to pursue a graduate degree down the road.

    If cost savings is the primary objective, CLEP and DSST exams are $80/ea. If you need some additional motivation (e.g. fear of financial loss) then StraighterLine ($99/mo + $49/ea) could work well for you. These exams should take care of the majority, if not all, of your general requirements.

    If you're interested in a BSIT degree, you could self-study and find discounted vouchers on eBay for various IT certifications (CIW, CompTIA, Microsoft, etc.) which will waive core classes. WGU is very generous in this regard as well. For example, I paid $350 for my CISSP exam by finding a discounted voucher on eBay, in lieu of the regular $599 price.

    I'd start by deciding on a target degree, obtaining the program guide, and then the institutions credit transfer policy.

    While a degree is an investment in and of itself, I've personally created the goal of avoiding diminishing the principal balance of my earnings/savings, by creating investments which pay for the degree using gains. At present, I purchase motor vehicles which net $2k/ea resale. I need only buy/sell three times per year to cover my WGU tuition. This equates to around 12 hours of additional work. If I purchase CNG vehicles for this purpose, I receive a 33% tax credit in my State as well-- not to mention saving >50% on my motor vehicle fuel needs.

    I took this approach when deciding to cover my monthly mortgage payment. I decided to flip vehicles to pay for each self-defined "stage" of a mother-in-law apartment build. It took me a year, but the end result is that my mortgage is covered with $100/mo excess. I can now divert what I would have paid to my lender into investments which increase my opportunities, such as the one described above. If I can do it, you can do it. icon_thumright.gif
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