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  • Excelsior College Distance Education Nursing Program

    Most nurses out there know one thing about continuing their education: it takes FOREVER! First you have to decide what college to attend, and then get accepted, register for your general education course requirements, and then your name will be placed on a waiting list for all the nursing course requirements.  Sometimes the waiting list is only a semester however there are colleges with waiting lists of two years or more.  In a society where we can watch the news instantly on our smart phones this seems outrageous.  Who wants to wait 2 years just to start their education? Fortunately for LVNs/LPNs, paramedics and Respiratory Therapists there are options. Today I will outline Excelsior College's Associate Degree in Nursing a great option for distance education.

    Here’s how it works:  

    1. You TEST OUT of all your courses (Yep, it’s that simple).
    2. You start with the general education courses (you don’t even have to be enrolled with Excelsior) and test out and pass all of the required general education courses.
    3. Then you enroll with Excelsior and test out and pass all of the nursing courses.
    4. Once that is complete you schedule your CPNE (Clinical Performance in Nursing Examination).   This is a testing clinical held on a weekend at sites throughout the US.
    5. Once you pass the CPNE all that is left is sitting for your NCLEX exam.
    6. Pass your NCLEX and you are a Registered Nurse!

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  • Military Servicemembers taking CLEP, DSST(DANTES) or ECE, pass the first time for FREE!

    In the not so distant past Military servicemembers had their CLEP, DSST (DANTES) and ECE exams paid for no matter how many times it took to pass. So if they did not know the Biology material they could take the CLEP exam over and over until they passed and not worry about studying.  It made perfect since to take the exam multiple times without studying as long as the exam was free.  Why pay for study material when you can just retake the exams until you passed? However after a number of budget cuts this convenience to the military student was revamped.

    DANTES New Retest Policy: The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) announced they will only provide funding for initial testing for College Level Entrance Examination Program (CLEP) exam, DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) and Excelsior College Examinations (ECE) exams taken after May 20, 2010. If a retest is required for exams taken after this date, it will be at the expense of the servicemember. Retests will continue to be funded through DANTES for servicemembers who took a test prior to May 20 and take the retest before Dec. 11, 2010.” This according to Military.com

    Some exams can cost up to $350.00, imagine paying for that exam but receiving no credit, might as well burn your money right?  This policy makes passing the first time essential! In an earlier blog I talk about 7 Study Tips which can help military students pass the first time. Although this may be scary news to some or not news at all to others, it shouldn’t discourage you from testing out of college courses.  Testing out saves time, money, gives you flexibility, and allows you to study at your own pace in your own space. 

    “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” ~Vince Lombardi

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  • Testing Out Success: CLEP, DSST and ECE Exams

    Carswell AFB was recognized as a superior performer because of their use of Rosetta Stone and iStudySmart.com’scourses. Carswell AFB went from 5 graduates of the Community College of the Air Force to 77 graduates in one year and iStudySmart.com contributed to that success.
    Chief Master Sgt. Wanda M. Dillon at Carswell Air Force Base in Ft. Worth, Texas

    Thank you so much for your help! I have passed all my requirements for graduation with my BA in Music. Your company has helped me to gain 24 general education credits!
    Maggie Bristol

    Just passed today with an unexpected A! This has been the most difficult course for me, but with iStudySmart materials, I passed on my first try with an A!
    Christine C.

    iStudySmart helped me to complete 3 upper level required course requirements and achieve 'A's on my examinations. The assignments and exams helped me to focus on the information that would be expected of me. iStudySmart saved me time and money.

    Yes! I passed with a score of 72 - the highest of my group of dsst test takers! I answered all the questions (797) in the study guide, and kept reviewing the answers over and over for about three weeks. I took the practice exam twice, and then focused on the ones I got wrong both times. After that, took the practice exam again. Each time I received a better score. I went into the exam confident I would do well, and came out quite excited and fulfilled in my accomplishment. I am glad I purchased the i Study Smart guide. Thanks!
    Confident Test Taker




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  • 7 Study Tips on “Testing Out”

    Taking a test in grade school, although scary at the time, seems like a distance but pleasant memory to most, so how did we make it this far? As kids we took multiple tests through grade school, middle school and high school yet we graduated. But as working adults we cringe at the very thought of test taking.  Will we look back on tests we take now and wonder what the big deal was? I think not. Most kids have one responsibility SCHOOL, now we juggle work, family, social obligations and continuing our education. Testing out of college courses using DSST, CLEP and ECE exams saves money and time, but for some seems daunting. So let me give you a few helpful hints.

    1. Study: I know it may seem obvious but reading + writing = retention.
    2. Sleep: Before taking the exam get a good night’s sleep don’t cram!
    3. Prolong knowledge: Instead of cramming, study a little each day
    4. Eat Well: Stay healthy and feel good, your brain is a vital organ feed it well.
    5. Use good resources: Textbooks, study guides and internet resources. You can buy really cheap textbooks at amazon.com, study guides at iStudySmart.com and two good internet resources are getcollegecredit.com or collegeboard.org.
    6. Eat a good meal before the test: a grumbling stomach can be a distraction that causes you to think of nothing other than that MacDonald’s sign out the testing center’s window.
    7. Don’t Stress: You are PREPARED!

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  • Giving Distance Learning the Third Degree

    By John F. Ebersole, President of Excelsior College

    1. Is the offering institution regionally accredited?
      Unlike other parts of the world, regional accreditation is the highest form of institutional accreditation in the U.S. It provides a type of quality assurance necessary for most tuition assistance programs, the transferability of credits earned, and the ultimate recognition of any degree awarded. 
    2. What is the success rate for students who enter the program?
      Do students who enroll finish? High drop out rates often indicate a poorly designed, or delivery, program.
    3. Will the offering institution allow you to sample a course before making a financial commitment?
      While a growing number of students around the world are pursuing entire degree programs online, the experience is not for everyone. See if it is right for you before making a final decision.
    4. What support services exist to help ensure your success? Can you register and order books online? Access tutors or advisors?
      The uniform accreditation standards for distance educational programs, as adopted by the six regional U.S. accrediting bodies, require that those student services typically found on a campus also be available online. This includes library access, financial aid counseling, registration services, etc.
    5. Can you truly study "anytime" and "anyplace" to complete the program being considered?
      Most distance programs allow for asynchronous study (student and faculty interact through online posting at different times) but some may require all students in a course to be online at the same time. Some institutions also require that some time be spent on campus. Such expectations should be understood up front.
    6. Will the institution that you are considering provide you with contact information of graduates?
      While a positive testimonial is not a guarantee, even a short conversation may provide valuable insight into the quality of the program.
    7. What about the faculty?
      While a concern for faculty mix is not unique to online learning, it can help in your evaluation of "fit." Adult students typically report that they are most satisfied with programs, regardless of discipline, which feature a blend of academics, who can provide a theoretical foundation, and practitioners, who can speak to their application.
    8. What financial aid options are available?
      Reputable distance education providers typically offer a variety of financial aid programs, as well as qualifying for employer-provided tuition assistance. If your program does not qualify for Title IV Financial Aid Programs, find out why.
    9. How long has the institution been offering education at a distance?
      While historic performance is not a guarantee of future quality or success, it is a factor to be considered.
    10. What is the reputation of the offering institution? Is the college/university widely known?
      Unfortunately, there are many bogus "institutions," which advertise online and in print, with names that are similar to those of legitimate colleges and universities. Such operations are not accredited, though they may claim otherwise. Do your homework.

    Used by permission from the author 

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  • The DANTES Subject Standardized Tests or DSST

    Education Writer and Counselor: Thomas Nixon
    April, 2005: About.com's Continuing Education Page

    While many students have heard of GRE exams, CLEP exams and the rest, the best choice may not be quite as recognizable. The DANTES Subject Standardized Tests, or DSSTs, were originally designed as a way for members of the military to earn college credit for either information they already possessed or information which they could learn through self-study. At present, there are close to forty examinations available with more in the works.

    DANTES stands for Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support.

    Why use the DSST exams when there are others available? For starters, the exam cost is only $60 each. (* Fees are subject to change.) Yes, that is $60 to earn three units. The tests are free to members of the military. Also, these exams are accepted at over 1,900 colleges and universities around the world and are recognized as worthy of credit by the American Council on Education.

    Widespread recognition at a very reasonable cost is a difficult combination to beat.

    Tests are in the general areas of mathematics, social science, business, physical science, applied technology, and humanities. Test titles range from 'Ethics in America' to 'Principles of Physical Science' to 'Organizational Behavior,' and many, many more. There are enough tests in enough different areas to earn a large portion of a college degree in this manner, provided you have or can get the knowledge necessary to pass the test.

    Each test has a fact sheet that is downloadable from the website. The fact sheet includes information on the areas covered on that test, plus sample questions to give you some idea what to study. Should you need to study, the fact sheet also includes a list of recommended books.

    If you're not ready to pass an exam and think that you need extra help, the Chauncey Group, creators of the exam, has partnered with iStudySmart.com to provide study courses, both online and by correspondence. Even with the $149 (or somewhat more) for the courses, that is still a reasonable amount for three units. iStudySmart.com offers courses for over twenty of the tests.

    If you're not sure if you are ready to pass the exam, you can take practice tests. GetCollegeCredit.com is the civilian DSST website. On that site, you can take nineteen practice tests. Clearly, all practice tests are not available for all subject areas, but this can be a useful tool for those areas where one is provided. While passing the practice test in no way guarantees passing the real test, it is a good indicator.

    If you hope to be successful with DSSTs or other credit-by-examination options, you may wish to follow this plan:

    1. Check out the fact sheet for that test. Does it seem like this is something where you have previous knowledge? If it is, go to the next step. If it is not, you would be wise to study prior to taking the practice tests.
    2. Test your knowledge. Use one of the practice tests at GetCollegeCredit.com or from one of the test preparation books available.
    3. If you don't nail the test, consider either purchasing a textbook for the topic or using a test preparation company such as iStudySmart.com.
    4. After sufficient studying, take a practice test again.
    5. If you do well on the practice test, it's time for the real thing!

    It's important that you don't rush the process. If you pass a practice test, but did not do particularly well, you are well-advised to learn more before taking the test. However, one advantage with the DSST is that the cost is so low relative to other tests that a failure on a single test does not cost you hundreds of dollars.
    * DSST fees changed to $80 as of December, 2008.


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  • iStudySmart.com Helps the Military Family Complete College Credit

    Just because they don’t wear a uniform doesn’t mean the military family doesn’t serve. iStudySmart.com understands that the family left behind is making a sacrifice for their loved one who is protecting our country.


    iStudySmart.com is committed to offering discounts to our Armed Forces and their family members. We can help adults wanting to finish a degree, or a child wanting to get a head start on college and save money on tuition.


    Here are four ways iStudySmart.com courses can be used:                                       

     - Test out of college classes while still in high school

     - Finish a degree that was started, but never finished

     - Study anywhere and at anytime

     - Increase the financial stability of your family by increasing earning potential


    iStudySmart.com has over 60 study courses to choose from and are offered in three formats: Traditional, Advanced and Premier. No matter what format you or a family member decide to use, iStudySmart.com is dedicated to helping adult learners complete college credit and earn their degree fast!


    Military discounts are also available!

    Military personnel and their families can receive $50 off any SmartClub membership with coupon code FTSZHC3. When you or a family member is ready to purchase courses, use coupon code JNEBSNA for $20 off any course. During July only, military personnel can purchase any general education tradtional course for $195!


    Have questions? An Educational Consultant is happy to help you. Contact iStudySmart.com at 1-800-737-2222 or email at info@iStudySmart.com.


    You can also visit the Military page on iStudySmart.com’s website for more information.

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  • iStudySmart.com Online Course Preview Video

    iStudySmart.com is excited to present our new course options. Below is an overview video of the Premier format, the only format offered by iStudySmart.com that is self-paced and online.

    For more information, contact iStudySmart.com at 1-800-737-2222 or visit www.iStudySmart.com. Be sure to check the iStudySmart.com courses page to take advantages of these new course options!


    Click the video to watch the overview!



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  • 2 Smart Ways to Cut College Costs

    The fall semester is starting soon and it’s time to think about returning to college. You know why you want more education but you’re not sure about the how.


    College fees and tuition have increased over the past years, with the greatest increase being in public universities, according to an annual survey by the College Board. The College Board creates and administrates standardized tests such as SAT, AP and CLEP.



    Your schedule is more jammed than ever and money may be an issue. Is it possible to cut costs, save time and still get the education you need?

    The answer is yes – if you utilize a shortcut known as credit by examination or “testing out.” More than 3,800 colleges and universities offer credit by passing CLEP, DSST and ECE exams. You pass the test and get the credit, whether you’ve attended a class or not. These exams allow you to complete college credit for what you already know or to self-study and bypass classroom time.



    The “Testing Out” Option

    Some schools offer their own proficiency exams, which complete credit for those schools only.  For example, Excelsior College offers ECE exams. There are a few colleges that accept credit for ECE exams, but, generally, the credit completed by a school’s specific exam is not transferable if you transfer to another school.


    How Many Credits Can You Get?

    The number varies from college to college and sometimes even by department. But many schools allow you to complete up to 30 credit hours this way.


    If you have a program or school of interest, ask admissions these questions:


    ·         Do you accept credit by examination?

    ·         Do you only accept certain exams?

    ·         What are the passing scores?

    ·         Is there a transfer fee for these credits?


    The fees for taking tests are generally between $77 and $355. Many college testing centers administer the tests, even if you are not a student at that school.



    The Self-Study Option

    Suppose you don’t have the knowledge of the exam yet and would like to study at home instead. How do you get ready for such an exam?


    There are companies that sell study guides for students who want to complete college credit by testing out and need to prepare for the test. Some of these guides are simply outlines and some are more in-depth. If you go to the website for a particular exam, the information about the tests also includes a bibliography. It may be that your local library has the books you need to prepare for the test.



    You may be thinking, “This is too good to be true. What’s the catch?” Here’s one: self-study requires some discipline. With a little effort, it’s possible to study at your own pace, in your own space and save on class time. If you test out of an introductory course or elective, you can move more quickly into advanced courses and core classes.



    This clearly saves you time – and money! You save the cost of sitting in class, not only in tuition fees, but in missed work to attend class, babysitting costs, gas, etc.



    So complete college for you what you know – or will know with home study. It’s a smart way to get an education!



    For more information, contact an iStudySmart.com Educational Consultant at 1-800-737-2222.

    - Article by Sue Perkins, iStudySmart.com

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