Accelerated Degree Diary 2 – College I picked and Degree Program Breakdown

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Video Originally Published on Aug 25, 2016

Hey! My name is Nathan Young and this is the second video diary of my one year journey to a bachelor’s degree.

Today I want to tell you guys that I applied to Thomas Edison State College, which is a State University in New Jersey. It’s not-for-profit University, an actual State University. A lot of people talk about degree mills and things like that, and everybody gives flack to University of Phoenix. Which, whatever man, I know several people who got their degree from University of Phoenix, and then it did exactly what a degree needs to do for you at this stage, which is just open a door because you have the tick marks checked. Anyway, I wanted to find one that was a little less “mill” like in people’s minds. So I went with the US state school, Thomas Edison.

I’ve also heard that New York University also has like a sister school or a partner school that’s run by the city of New York, and it’s called the Excelsior, and they do a lot of the same stuff as far as making adult learning really easy. So, there’s Thomas Edison State University (TESU) and there’s Excelsior and I enrolled at TESU.

At both schools, they accept CLEP and DSST exam credits – if you don’t know what those are, then you can watch my other video explaining that over here:

At TESU, they also have something called TECEPS. TECEPS are just like a CLEP, only Thomas Edison actually provides you all the stuff that you need in order to study for it themselves because the course is hosted specifically by Thomas Edison. Actually it’s one of their courses, and they just give you all the study materials and then they give you a few weeks to take the final exam. If you pass the final exam, then you’ve completed that course from their school. I don’t know how well those transfer out and I haven’t really asked about it, because I expect to get my degree from TESU.

As of the making of this video, I’m two weeks into this process of an accelerated degree – so I’m basically starting from scratch. I decided to go do it and now I’m two weeks in. I’ve gotten a few things done so far, but not a lot.

One of my goals was originally to take only 5 actual courses for the entire year in the entire degree, which would add up to 15 credit hours out of 120 total credit hours required. I do not think I’m gonna be able to pull that off, because I’ve learned a few things: Thomas Edison specifically has a requirement that in order to get financial aid;
And this a whole other thing I’ll go into later but, in order to qualify for financial aid from the government, you have to be taking 6 course hours, either online course or self guided. BUT, not a TECEP and not an EPACK, which is some other thing that’s very similar to self guided courses, but basically no one pays attention to you and you’re doing it completely on your own without an instructor. So again, you have to be enrolled in 6 actual course credits in order to continue to qualify to get financial aid.

I applied for financial aid, and I was awarded enough to hopefully cover the entire degree. It’s going to be weird, but I’ll explain that later. So, you have to take 6 course hours, AND you have to be taking 6 hours during each one of their enrollment periods, to continue qualifying for financial aid. So, for Fall it’s August 25th now, and my first semester will be the October enrollment period. Technically you can enroll in a class at Thomas Edison any month. They have January, February, March, April, May, June, all twelve months has their own term; however, the enrollment periods for financial aid for fall are apparently October, January, and April. Weird right? So for my 2016/2017 financial aid to be valid, I have to have courses that total 6 actual credit hours. Right now I’m taking 2 online courses to get those 6 credit hours, which will allow me to actually receive my financial aid disbursements. It’s all a little weird, but whatever. So, there’s all that and it’s a little more detail than I want to get into right now but whatever.

I put together a spreadsheet of my entire degree program, a Bachelor’s in Business Management with a focus on entrepreneurship. I submitted that to my academic advisor, and they have responded to me and said that this WILL get me my degree. “Good job, this is great, this spreadsheet is really great.” So, I’ll put a link to that in the description of this video, so you guys can see exactly what courses you potentially can take. – Spreadsheet here

You should note, this is MY degree program. You could do it exactly how I have it in that sheet, but I picked things that I knew were easy for ME. I can also list everything, I can give you the link to their entire bachelors requirements section, which they sent me. I found that to be a little bit difficult, and I wanted to put together the spreadsheet. So again, I linked to that spreadsheet.

The total cost associated with the degree, which like I mentioned, I was able to get financial aid (I think) to cover the whole thing, the total cost associated should run right around thirteen thousand dollars. Yes, for the entire degree. Caveat! That does not include the cost of books, and it does not include the fact that I won’t be working as much, so there’s also some opportunity cost. But for comprehensive tuition, every DSST exam and every CLEP test, I should be able to come in right at 13k for the actual tuition portion.

Now, here are some ways that it could become more expensive –
1 – If I have to purchase books.
Books can be ungodly expensive; I’m looking into a bunch of ways to get books super cheap or free, and you can find a lot of stuff online for that.
2 – I’ll be working less and maybe making less
I won’t be making as much money because I’m working part-time, and my wife is actually working full-time. We’re swapping roles for one year, which is crazy for us. But we decided we just wanted to get it knocked out.
3 – If I fail any of the tests
If I fail tests, then the testing cost will go up. If you fail a dsst test, then you can’t retake the test for three months, and you lose the amount of money that you paid for it. If a clep test is $100, and I bomb it, then I would have to take it again, and that would be another $100.

So $13,000 is the starting point, and I think that’s probably the cheapest I can possibly get.

I was personally awarded financial aid up to $14,000. So, I took it, and I had a solid mix of where it was coming from. I get about $5,000 in actual pell grant, and the rest of it was in subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Now, personally, when I actually get a job, with my experience and in the fields where I can find work pretty easily, I will almost definitely make enough money that I can pay those loans back. As such, I was willing to take all the loans and say “This is everything I’ll need, and I’ll figure this out later.” So, that might be different for you, but that’s what I have done.

That’s my life story in this so far. I’m taking all the financial aid I was awarded immediately, and several thousand of that will be in loans. About $6,000 of that will be in unsubsidized loans. So, interest WILL accrue while I am in school. Hopefully that will only be one year’s worth of interest. To help deal with finances, I am digging into scholarships full-time right now. Well, not full-time, that’s totally hyperbole. I’m digging into scholarships every day. When I’m doing business consulting, I tell people that they have to be working their sales every single day. Even if it’s only 15-20 minutes a day, you have to be working sales. You have to be working on increasing your bottom line, specifically focusing time increasing your bottom line every single day. And I tell people this all the time; it’s something that destroys small businesses and one-person businesses, because they get so wrapped up in the operations part of it that by the time they’re done getting the work done for a client, then they’re out of clients and then struggle to find the next client. So, just dedicate 15-20 minutes to sales everyday. That’s what I’m doing with scholarships. I’m dedicating 15-20 minutes every single day to either looking, or applying for, or writing essays for, scholarships. If I can get enough of that then, woo! If I can’t then whatever, I’m totally dedicated to the expense, and it’s reasonable for me, and I’m willing to take that on.

The last thing is, I would consider myself a very driven person, but something I’m going to struggle with is that World of Warcraft Legion is coming out in like a week, and I am a dedicated gamer. My wife plays video games, and she really got into WoW after we got together. She likes it a lot but she actually has to take a lot of time away from it this year. I’m more of a dedicated gamer and I’m going to be really torn about being able to play the games that I really love to play. I’ve been playing Warcraft for like 11 years, with breaks here and there of course. But that’s the way that I relax, and now I’m dealing with this feeling of “hey, you’re gonna have to stay on task.” It’ll be the thing that I really love to do versus the thing that I don’t really love to do, and just sort of competing with that in my mind.

I know that every day when I look at my job and I look at my wife, I’ll be like, “Ok, I have to get this done.” But when you’re in the middle of studying, and you can just double click that icon, like, it’s so easy to jump into that. So, that’ll be tough, and I’ll be facing that, but just, you know, I’m really looking forward to playing.

Well, this video has gone on long enough. Now you know a little bit more about the process and that’s all I’ve got. Thanks!

Questions? Hit me up.