Are you worried that a mid-degree college transfer or graduate school pre-requisites are going to delay your graduation date? You can eliminate extra credit requirements by challenging accepted transfer coursework rulings using your professional and academic portfolios to reduce pre-requisites, and testing out of other basic courses. Keep reading to learn how this can save you money and time, and put you ahead in your career field. (For more, see 7 Courses Finance Students Should Take.)

Tutorial: Introduction To Student Loans

Start with the Admissions Office
The first step in determining which courses you'll need to test out of, or challenge, is reviewing your current coursework with an admissions counselor. Once you know if any of your courses weren't accepted, you can start the challenge process.

Review and Challenge Course Credit Decisions
Sometimes the difference between courses transferring or not transferring is as simple as course title differences. For instance, the admissions department may have not counted your courses because a business communications class was labeled as a communications course instead of a business course.

For example, let's say you transfer to a new school with 75 credits and 57 credits have exact matches to courses listed in the new school's catalog. If the difference is just a course name or number on at least a few of the remaining 18 credits, you'll want to look at the course catalog from your old school and and note the course descriptions for each course in dispute. After this, look for similar courses in the course catalog of your new school. For example, Marketing 300, 301 or 401 could have a similar description as Marketing 3000, 3001 4010 at another school that counts towards your graduation requirements. It's also possible that the marketing course could be listed in another department. For instance, hospitality marketing at your old school might be offered by the marketing department in your new school. Look under all departments that could possibly contain your old course in your new schools catalog. Once you've found your new course's descriptions, present your admissions or academic counselor with both sets of course descriptions.

Challenging Due to Work Experience
If you've worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years, you probably don't need Hospitality 101. In some cases, you can talk to your academic counselor in your major and provide a portfolio of your experience and avoid taking that course.

Your portfolio could include letters of recommendation, awards, newspaper and web clips about your successes within your field, and your resume. Write a list of what you could provide to show your experience, as well as for which courses you already know the content that will be taught.

Challenging Due to Completion of Advanced Coursework
Just like you shouldn't have to take Hospitality 101 if you were a hotel exec, you also shouldn't have to take Hospitality 101 if your previous school let you take advanced hospitality coursework where you went beyond what is taught in Hospitality 101. In this case, set an appointment with an academic advisor with a portfolio prepared that contains a syllabus of the courses you took at a higher level as well as any graded papers you have. If you don't have this information, contact your former professor for a copy of the syllabus. Your academic advisor will tell you if an exemption from the course is possible and if you need to provide any other proof of course competency.

Testing Out of Courses
Testing out of courses is useful if you already have the knowledge required or you can teach yourself via an online or physical study guide. There are two general ways of testing out of coursework: university-offered tests for course placement and through nationalized tests such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES tests. Nationalized tests are taken at testing centers, which can be located on university campuses.

Placement tests offered directly by universities can get you out of early coursework. The placement test can be free or require a small test administration fee.

Both CLEP tests and DANTES tests are under $100 and can save test takers three to 12 academic credits per exam, depending on the subject taken and your college's score acceptance policy. For instance, as long as your college accepts your CLEP score, you will likely get three credits for taking the microeconomics CLEP test. However, you could test out of two courses with a foreign language CLEP test.

Before you sign up for any nationalized test, verify with your academic advisor which tests count for courses you need and what score is required. You don't want to study hard for a test on English literature only to find your college doesn't award course credit. (For more, see Ace Your Business School Courses.)

Money Saved and Value Earned
Don't ever let an admissions officer tell you that your transfer credits don't count until you've gone through the complete challenge process. The money saved from streamlining your class schedule can really add up. Aside from money, you're also saving time that you can now spend on internships or career opportunities, and you're getting validation for the knowledge you already have.

For further reading, checkout The GRE: A Cheaper Alternative For Business School.

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