Author Topic: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree  (Read 6236 times)

NumberJohnny5

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Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« on: November 23, 2014, 07:20:26 PM »
Looking for the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to get a degree. And yes, I know, I only get to pick two of those options.

My situation: Graduated high school, went to university for a year (went to classes for the first half year). Got bored, wasn't actually learning anything, disillusioned, etc. Doubt I have any credits to transfer over, but I DID clep out of the first year of English. Maybe that's still worth something.

I'm currently in my mid 30s. I started out being self-employed (tech website, web hosting, building computers/servers, stuff like that), and am now a stay at home dad. I'd rather like the option to jump into something exciting, but my lack of "experience" and a piece of paper that says I know how to do what I know how to do are hindering that.

So, I'd like a shiny piece of paper that says "This guy knows how to take some tests!"

Let's get the obvious out of the way. Life experience degrees from diploma mills. Probably useful just to get past the initial computer screening HR does. One should be completely upfront and honest about the degree and why you got it. If you're really good at what you do and can wow the interviewer, this might be ok? Obviously not for a profession like a doctor (even if you had a degree, you'd need to be licensed), but for a computer programmer....

Ok, now let's ignore diploma mills as an option from here on out.

The University of Wisconsin has a flex degree option, where you can simply take tests to prove competency. Kinda like a legit life-experience degree, except you have to actually prove you know the info by taking the test. One of the degrees is a bachelor in Information Science and Technology. For the "all you can eat" subscription, it's $2,250 per three months. I guess in theory, I could get a bachelor's degree in three months and a couple grand, though in reality it'd take me at least five :) .  Has anyone done this, or heard from someone who did? Even if it took me two years, that's $18k. Now, I'm currently in Australia, so if any competencies had to be done "in person" that could be tricky, but I could easily go back for a couple months (would love an excuse to go back next year around the holidays), and I plan to be back permanently by 2016, so....

Since I'm going to be in Australia next year, I could get something locally. Probably a diploma instead of a degree. Not the same thing, but if I can go to the US and honestly say I have a diploma in Information Science or some-such...is it my fault if they assume I meant degree? Would that even be a good way to get my foot in the door, or will I be locked out since I can't answer "yes" to "Associate's or Bachelor's degree"?

"Well NumberJohnny5, what exactly do you want to DO with this degree?" To be honest, I have no idea. But I like having options, and I think I'd like to do SOMETHING. Maybe man the internet cafe on a cruise ship, or help setup a school with linux computers, or help design smart houses.

Ok, I lied, I do know what I want to be. I want to have the title of BOFH.

Primm

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2014, 09:06:52 PM »

Since I'm going to be in Australia next year, I could get something locally. Probably a diploma instead of a degree. Not the same thing, but if I can go to the US and honestly say I have a diploma in Information Science or some-such...is it my fault if they assume I meant degree? Would that even be a good way to get my foot in the door, or will I be locked out since I can't answer "yes" to "Associate's or Bachelor's degree"?


I don't know the answer to the rest of your question, but if you're looking for the cheapest way to do this, then getting a qualification here is probably not it. Research the costs involved first, there's a reason one of our highest money-earning exports is the education of international students (about $14.5 billion last F/Y!).

Unless you're an Australian citizen and can charge it to HECS then move back overseas and never come back. :)

mozar

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2014, 09:14:33 PM »
So you are moving back to the US permanently? If so you should take community classes that will transfer to a four year college and finish there. You can get a degree however cheaply you want, but the more "traditional" your degree the more options you will have.

h2ogal

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2014, 09:26:47 PM »
1.   Take as many CLEP exams as possible. I think you can get up to 36 credits in some schools. I clepped english, humanities and others.  2. Find a 2+2 program where you can go to lower cost community college for first 2 years and state university for last 2.   3. Get a job where your employer pays. This option may not be fast but will be cheap.  4. The military (US) will give you college credits for your training and will pay for your schooling. 

I have an MBA and my total out of pocket cost was $7000.  Military paid 100% for my BS (I attended school part time while on active duty). and after I left the Military my employer (large corporation) paid for my grad degree.  It took me 7 years to get a 4 year undergrad but I did my MBA in 2 years by having my employer sponsor me in an Executive MBA program. 

Exflyboy

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2014, 11:39:20 PM »
Your question is a little odd and I have to ask why you just want a degree?

As you say "not for a profession".. its more than Doctors, its also engineers where depending on the branch of engineering you go into you might need to be licensed too.. although those branches are few... At least in the USA, many other countries really don't know what engineers are.

Employers are not fools.. if you get a Batchelors degree from a diploma mill it will be counted as close to worthless.

If you get a non specific degree (say English lit, music, performing arts), even from a reputable school.. what kind of salary to you expect to garner with that?..

Getting a low value certificate will be counted as low value so I'm not sure of the return you expect.

Frank

deborah

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2014, 11:59:18 PM »

Since I'm going to be in Australia next year, I could get something locally. Probably a diploma instead of a degree. Not the same thing, but if I can go to the US and honestly say I have a diploma in Information Science or some-such...is it my fault if they assume I meant degree? Would that even be a good way to get my foot in the door, or will I be locked out since I can't answer "yes" to "Associate's or Bachelor's degree"?


I don't know the answer to the rest of your question, but if you're looking for the cheapest way to do this, then getting a qualification here is probably not it. Research the costs involved first, there's a reason one of our highest money-earning exports is the education of international students (about $14.5 billion last F/Y!).

Unless you're an Australian citizen and can charge it to HECS then move back overseas and never come back. :)
Not so sure about this - check out the fees and compare. There is also a lower cost alternative in Australia - distance learning. Griffith Uni has some good courses, and Open Universities Australia has distance learning courses from a number of different Australian universities, so you can mix and match a course. Remember that our school year runs from January to December (actually probably March to November), and you would need to be rather quick to get in for first semester. However, there are a lot of places that have second semester intakes. There are also quite a few places that do prior learning credits, but they tend to be difficult.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2014, 12:14:18 AM »
I don't know the answer to the rest of your question, but if you're looking for the cheapest way to do this, then getting a qualification here is probably not it. Research the costs involved first, there's a reason one of our highest money-earning exports is the education of international students (about $14.5 billion last F/Y!).

Unless you're an Australian citizen and can charge it to HECS then move back overseas and never come back. :)

I don't think it'd be that expensive to go to University here. I would get the reduced rate if it's Commonwealth supported (all the IT related degrees/diplomas/etc. seem to qualify). Should note that I have a Permanent Resident Visa; I get reduced rates but not HECS (plan on becoming a citizen first part of 2016, and then leaving shortly afterward). I'd have to look to make sure, but I think my wife did her postgrad year for around $5k-$6k.

Edit: Previous edit resulted in grammar fubar.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 12:28:20 AM by NumberJohnny5 »

Primm

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2014, 12:19:02 AM »

Since I'm going to be in Australia next year, I could get something locally. Probably a diploma instead of a degree. Not the same thing, but if I can go to the US and honestly say I have a diploma in Information Science or some-such...is it my fault if they assume I meant degree? Would that even be a good way to get my foot in the door, or will I be locked out since I can't answer "yes" to "Associate's or Bachelor's degree"?


I don't know the answer to the rest of your question, but if you're looking for the cheapest way to do this, then getting a qualification here is probably not it. Research the costs involved first, there's a reason one of our highest money-earning exports is the education of international students (about $14.5 billion last F/Y!).

Unless you're an Australian citizen and can charge it to HECS then move back overseas and never come back. :)

Not so sure about this - check out the fees and compare. There is also a lower cost alternative in Australia - distance learning. Griffith Uni has some good courses, and Open Universities Australia has distance learning courses from a number of different Australian universities, so you can mix and match a course. Remember that our school year runs from January to December (actually probably March to November), and you would need to be rather quick to get in for first semester. However, there are a lot of places that have second semester intakes. There are also quite a few places that do prior learning credits, but they tend to be difficult.

Griffith Uni BInfTech is $66,960 for international students. OUA can be cheaper but the differential is much less now. I've done some off-campus study before, and I've never found online to be any cheaper than attending in person as far as fees go.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2014, 12:27:06 AM »
Your question is a little odd and I have to ask why you just want a degree?

To open doors. If I decide to do "X", and the company that is in the "X" business requires a degree before a human will even look at your resume, it might be handy to have a degree.

As to actually learn something, I can do that on my own. Not saying that I wouldn't get anything by going to a traditional university, just saying that the primary reason to get a degree is to get that piece of paper, and not to actually learn anything.

Employers are not fools.. if you get a Batchelors degree from a diploma mill it will be counted as close to worthless.

I wasn't trying to debate whether it'd be a good idea to get a diploma from a diploma mill, rather I threw it out there to say "yeah, someone will mention it, probably say don't do it, so let's just get it out of the way." But...there's a lot of jobs that require a Bachelor degree that really shouldn't. That's a whole separate debate though.

If you get a non specific degree (say English lit, music, performing arts), even from a reputable school.. what kind of salary to you expect to garner with that?..

I would not accept anything less than significantly below market rate, and not above a shit-ton.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2014, 12:32:06 AM »
Griffith Uni BInfTech is $66,960 for international students. OUA can be cheaper but the differential is much less now. I've done some off-campus study before, and I've never found online to be any cheaper than attending in person as far as fees go.

I remember looking into OUA, the prices was ok except for one thing. I would probably not be able to be admitted right away into a degree program, so I'd have to pay full fare for the first term or so. After that, if my grades were good enough, I could be accepted into the program, and then get the reduced rates (Commonwealth supported). I remember thinking it'd be a good idea if I took the normal amount of time; but if I wanted to accelerate it, it'd cost a whole lot more.

DoubleDown

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2014, 10:36:02 AM »
I'm a bit skeptical of the "get a degree to open doors" and "it's just a piece of paper" mentality. I think you largely answered your own question when you rhetorically asked yourself, "What do you want to do with this degree?" Without some specific goals in mind, or careers/industries that you know require a specific degree, I don't think it really makes sense to pursue one.

FWIW, I found college to be a very important and valuable learning experience, where I got an education, not just a piece of paper.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2014, 06:26:17 PM »
I'm a bit skeptical of the "get a degree to open doors" and "it's just a piece of paper" mentality. I think you largely answered your own question when you rhetorically asked yourself, "What do you want to do with this degree?" Without some specific goals in mind, or careers/industries that you know require a specific degree, I don't think it really makes sense to pursue one.

Really not sure what I want to do. Probably something where I can learn a new skill set, put it to use, then move on to the next project.

That said, if you were hiring for your company, which person would be most likely to get an interview? 1) Guy with no recent verifiable work experience in the past 10 years (I did work at Circuit City about 15 years ago, if that helps) and no degree, or 2) Guy with no recent work experience who just got a degree.

Being an introverted personality (depending on day/test/atmospheric conditions, I'm either INTJ or INTP, strong INT and weak J/P), I can't exactly wow them with my people skills. Or go to the golf course and chat up some CEOs (looks easy on TV!).

I could just get certs, but if I could get a legitimate degree in a year or so PLUS the certs...well, from the research I've done, a degree seems almost necessary unless you've already proven yourself (I've proven myself in the art of changing diapers, not so much in computers; though I did make a custom rom on XDA that 3-5 people downloaded).

FWIW, I found college to be a very important and valuable learning experience, where I got an education, not just a piece of paper.

I did go for half a year. Seemed like high school, except worse. I'm not into the social/party/crazy hijinks/etc. scene. I was more into "I wanna learn!" and didn't. Either I already got the concept, or the class started off with "Ok, now this is the last year PASCAL is going to be offered because it's obsolete, so let's get started!" Be nice if that was in the course description, I just knew I wanted to learn programming, and...well, eh.

Yeah yeah, I should have...if only I would have...but I'm not asking what to do if I come across a time machine.

Tried college once, didn't care for it.

Wouldn't mind giving it another go, if the vast majority of the time I'd be actually learning something. The most likely scenario is I'd be 100% bored in 50-70% of the classes, and the other 30-50% I'd be actively learning something for 5-15% of the time. I'm a quick learner, and get bored really quickly if the same thing is being repeated over and over and over and over and....

I was really intrigued by the Flex program UW had. No one here's heard about it? Or everyone who has is busy preparing for Turkey Day? The idea that I can simply take competency tests appeals to me. I could (in theory, haven't heard back from them yet, but since it's the holidays I'm not holding my breath) take a test, pass, and move to the next thing. Fail one, see where my knowledge is deficient, fix the deficiency, retake, pass, move on to the next. Absorb a year's worth of classes in one week, take the test, done. If there was a section I just couldn't get past, I could take that specific class at a traditional university (and either pass the test UW provides, or get the credit transferred over).

DoubleDown

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2014, 09:26:18 AM »
I did go for half a year. Seemed like high school, except worse.

I can completely relate. My first year I went to my home town university, mostly out of inertia, and it was a joke. It was exactly as you described: Like an extension of high school except worse. In fact, high school was more challenging.

But, not all colleges are alike. After the first year, I transferred to a serious university for the remaining years, and the difference was night and day. Very challenging, learned a ton, lots of incredibly bright students and amazing professors, etc. I'm not lobbying for you to give it another go, just saying that if you do, you can find a college that will challenge you in the way you want.

That said, if you were hiring for your company, which person would be most likely to get an interview? 1) Guy with no recent verifiable work experience in the past 10 years (I did work at Circuit City about 15 years ago, if that helps) and no degree, or 2) Guy with no recent work experience who just got a degree.

I think it very much depends on the company and job in question. Yes, in general, having a degree in the IT field will help, and can help you meet minimum qualifications some companies/jobs have. I'm just not certain based on the kinds of jobs you'd be pursuing how much it will help, since you're not sure exactly what kind of job you want to pursue. In scenario #2 above (guy with no recent experience who just got a degree), I think it would depend on the degree. If it was from a diploma mill, it would not influence me positively as an employer (it would probably have the opposite effect). If it was reasonably reputable, then it might positively influence me (again, depending on the job).

You've raised an interesting question. I hope you can find a solution that's both reasonably fast and affordable and actually provides some challenge and education. I'm just leery of trying too much for a quick fix that skirts the point of a 4-year education*, but I do understand the potential benefit you could get from having a degree. Good luck!

*I'd argue one important facet of a traditional 4-year degree that supposedly gives graduates a leg up in the employment world is demonstrating a capacity to take on a long term and challenging commitment, and finish it. That's why some employers just require a degree from a reputable school with a decent GPA (typically 3.0 or higher), and it doesn't even matter what the degree is in. They just want to see that the candidate successfully completed it.

historienne

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Re: Quickest/easiest/cheapest way to get a degree
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2014, 03:08:52 PM »
Other somewhat flexible online options that aren't just diploma mills: University of Southern New Hampshire, Western Governor's University.  I believe both do a form of competency testing, but are accredited and generally considered solid options.