In September, Jennifer Hunt of Brown County, Ind., was awarded a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey without ever taking a Thomas Edison course. She was one of about 300 of last year’s 3,200 graduates who managed to patch together their degree requirements with a mix of credits — from other institutions, standardized exams, online courses, workplace or military training programs and portfolio assessments.
Years ago, fresh out of high school, Ms. Hunt had finished enough advanced work to enter the University of Texas at Austin with sophomore standing. But after a year, homesick, she returned to Virginia. Then she married and eventually moved to Indiana. She had 10 children, whom she home-schools, and worked in her husband’s business.
About a year ago, at 39, she resolved to complete a degree. In a kind of a higher-education sprint, she took a number of college equivalency exams, earning 54 credits in 14 weeks.
“I tried to do an exam a week at the University of Indianapolis test center,” where the exams could be proctored, she said. “Each test cost about $80.”