Carol Biliczky

The University of Akron soon will offer innovative refresher classes to help students earn credit for courses through testing.

As soon as May, students can enroll in nine undergraduate tutorials in math, statistics, sociology, psychology and communication in the new Express to Success program.

UA says the on-campus, 10-hour refresher classes are believed to be the first of their kind in the nation.

“The credit-by-exam option has always existed here, but we’ve been working hard to add a new component,” said Bill Lyons, acting assistant dean of the UA College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s for students who are not quite confident enough to take the credit by exam.”

The refreshers are geared to students who learned the subject through personal study; massive, open, online courses offered elsewhere; or on-the-job training.

The program aims to make it easier for students to collect credits and speed their way to graduation at a lower cost, said Arts and Sciences Dean Chand Midha, who came up with the program.

“We know there’s nationwide concern about college costs,” which sometimes leave students tens of thousands of dollars in debt, he said.

Low cost

The cost for the tutorial is undeniably reasonable: If they’re not already students, Express to Success participants can enroll as “guest students” for $40. They will pay $100 for a three-credit tutorial — about a tenth of the $1,035 charged for a traditional three-credit class at UA.

Guest students will bypass fees assessed to traditional students, including the transportation pass and general service and facilities fees that can add hundreds of dollars to students’ bills each year.

It’s one of several options open to students who want to bypass traditional college courses.

For instance, high school students can earn credit through Advanced Placement tests. And all students can acquire credits through the nationally administered College Level Examination Program, or CLEP, in select courses ranging from American literature to beginning German.

Boost in confidence

But UA is selling Express to Success on the idea that some students need a little help — a boost in confidence — before they jump into what amounts to a final exam.

UA graduate students will lead them through 10 classroom hours in each subject, which are based on courses offered at the university.

If students decide they don’t know as much about the subject as they thought they did, they can choose to enroll in the traditional UA class, with their tutorial fee applied to their tuition. Or they can scrap the whole idea with no damage to their college transcripts.

If they do take the exam, the $100 cost of the tutorial will be applied to the $90 cost for a three-credit hour test. In other words, the test — offered on campus via computers — will be free.

But the stakes are high.

While employers and others won’t be able to tell that the student earned the course credit solely by exam, the score will appear on the students’ transcript, no matter what.

Students will not be allowed to repeat the test to build their score, as they can with the ACT, the national college admissions exam, for instance.

“We’ll try to discourage students who haven’t mastered the material from taking the test,” Lyons said. “It’s too high of a risk.”

For details about Express to Success, visit Lyons can be reached at or 330-972-5855.

Carol Biliczky can be reached at or 330-996-3729.