Friday, February 27, 2009

Thomas Edison State College

The above video is actually done by UPS and highlights their partnership with Thomas Edison State College to help their employees get college degrees. Here is Wikipedia's article about TESC, and here is TESC's website itself.

TESC pioneered distance education in 1972. It is a State College of New Jersey (located in Trenton), and is fully accredited. They currently offer 6 associate, 6 bachelor, and 4 master degrees. It is possible to earn a degree from TESC without setting foot in a classroom - though most people take classes in a combination of ways - from traditional university classroom instruction (and transferring the credits to TESC), to testing out of college level courses, to studying by correspondance or by internet.

TESC is especially helpful for adults who want to return to college to earn a degree - as it affords maximum flexibility and minimum expense. You can earn a degree at your own pace - whether for professional advancement, or to get into a graduate program, or just to get a college degree for the personal satisfaction of doing so. A former co-worker of mine used to take a class every few months, knowing full well that earning her bachelor's degree would take more than a decade. Like the proverbial tortoise, she just kep plugging away.

In my own case, I attended the University of Akron in the 1980s, but left the university to attend a technical school (the Cleveland Institute of Technology), where I earned the equivalent of an associate degree in computer programming. In 1999, I applied to go to seminary. I needed a bachelor's to be admitted, and was about a year's worth of credits short.

TESC crafted a degree program that applied earlier college credits and some credits for continuing education classes that I took as a technology professional (which I didn't realize were accredited college classes). I was able to earn a BA in History by taking a series of CLEP tests (which transfer to TESC for full credit) as well as a couple correspondence classes from Brigham Young University (BYU).

I was able to work at my own pace, and I actually enjoyed the challenge of study as an adult. The CLEP program allows you to do as much or as little self-study as you want on a topic - and then take the pass/fail final exam. I took CLEP tests for U.S. History, Soviet History, the History of the Vietnam War, and the History of Modern Europe. These exams can be taken at any local university or community college (they are proctored by professors). I also took two genealogical research courses from BYU - Latin for Genealogists and Genealogical Writing - in which I worked at my own pace and mailed classwork to the professor in Utah.

Within a year's time (2000), I graduated with my BA, which was accepted for admission to Concordia Theological Seminary.

TESC does have a campus and has professors and onsite classrooms, but its real strength is its flexibility in recognizing offsite coursework for credit. There is no football team, no fraternities, no dorms, and no marching band - but TESC is about earning your degree without such distractions. I think it would also be an ideal solution for homeschoolers - as people who tend to be autodidactic will do well under the discipline of working at one's own pace and learning through non-traditional methods.

In my own case, I received a thorough education - because I took my studies seriously and worked hard. I actually received college credit for doing the kind of reading in History and watching video documentaries that I had formerly done just because I was interested in it.

If you want to earn an accredited degree, and especially if you've dropped out of college and want to finish what you started a long time ago, contact TESC. They can take your transcript(s) and put together a curriculum so that you can achieve your goal on your own timetable. It really is affordable, and there are a lot of technological advantages (such as online classes) that really weren't an option for me when I was a student ten years ago.

I'm grateful for the opportunity that TESC gave me, and as money gets tighter and education costs continue to spiral - TESC may give a lot of people opportunities that they wouldn't have otherwise.

1 comment:

Pastor said...

You're not the only TESC student I've met - you may be surprised to learn that some home-schooled Lutherans from Georgia also take distance ed from TESC. It allows them to move at a slightly slower pace and work nearly full time while going to school. It's a great, great program!