Free University Academic FAQs
- Whate is the difference between Clep, DANTES, PEP examinations and Distance
- 1) There are several important differences. With the Clep, DANTES and PEP
you are totally alone. You decide what subjects you want to take and when you want to take the
exam (each test is offered several times a year). You deal directly with the testing agency, and you
really have no one to assist you. You have to obtain the necessary texts, and, where they exist,
books of sample exams to help you study.
- 2) You have to maintain a disciplined approach to study and to test preparation in order to
successful. The first test will be the greatest challenge because you have to learn how to study by
yourself in addition to learning the material for the test. However, in my conversation with
students who have taken the tests, many of them go on to take more.
- 3) You do not have to be enrolled in a college in order to take the tests -- although to
college credit you will eventually have to enroll at some college, for it is the college which decides
the amount of unit credit you should receive. You also need to be careful to check with the
college you expect to enroll in to determine: which tests they give cadit for (many colleges do not
accept all subjects tested); and how many credits they will allow by examination. (Typically they
will allow up to 30 credits - one academic year; though some will not give more that 15 credits,
while certain External Degree granting college - such as Regents College of the
State of New York, Charter Oak in Connecticut, and Thomas Edison in New Jersey will allow as
much as all four years by examination.)
- 4) The variety of courses offered is comparatively slim. Most are lower division core
It is possible, however, to obtain an A.A. degree in liberal studies entirely by examination.
- 5) Except for the actual exam dates, you have total control over your time.
- 6) You save a lot of money. Tests for three to six unit courses usually cost less than $60.
- Distance Learning
- 1) You are not alone. At the very least you are in periodic contact with your instructor,
though not in person. Course material is sent to you - by mail and/or online; you prepare an
assignment; return it to the instructor, who comments on it. In addition to texts, materials can
include audio and/or video tapes.
- 2) An increasing number of courses are available online. These may even include real-time
chat rooms, though more often student post messages in a file for other to read and comment
- 3) Many courses are only offered during the regular school terms. Some are offered more
frequently during the year. It is still rare for courses to be available on-demand, but there seems to
be a trend in this direction.
- 4) The range of courses offered is substantial and includes both lower and upper division
courses as well as those on a graduate level
- 5) The courses are more expensive. Typical range is from $300 to $750 for a three unit
and there may be other fees, costs of books, etc.
- What are GRE subject exams and how do they fit into the equation?
- 1) The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a well known general examination taken by those
who want to continue on to graduare school. In addition, there are a number of subject specific
exams (English Literature, History, Political Science, etc.) reflecting the more popular
underfraduate majors. These exams test breadth and depth of knowledge in the field and the
External Degree programs mentioned above will award upper division credit. The amount of
credit is usually dependent upon the grade. The higher the grade, the more units awarded.
- 2) If you can build one or more subject GREs into your total program you can save serious
money. The subject GRE tests run about $100 and depending on your particular situation can be
worth from 12 to 24 units.
- What about External Degree Programs?
- 1) Basically an External Degree means that you are rarely required to take classes on
Depending upon the college you do most of your course work through standard Distance
Learning, however many also give you more freedom to design programs of your own in
collaboration with a faculty advisor.
- 2) While you do most of your course work alone, or through regular or distance learning
classes, you are also assigned to one member of the faculty as an advisor. There is help available
when you need it.
- 3) Cost of an External Degree, particularly when you can include substantial credit by
examination, can easily be less than half standard tuition.
- 4) You have a great deal of flexibility to design a course of study that suits your personal
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