Sophia Learning, LLC
Sophia.org is an alternate credit provider with mainly general education credits. Unlike other credit providers, the tests/exams (called milestones) are not proctored with a webcam. Instead, they use your typing pattern to verify who you are. Alternatively, you may identify via a text message - if the typing verification fails.
As of October 2020, Sophia charges $79 per month and there is no built-in limit to the number of courses you can complete that period. But you can only have two courses active at one time. This is unlike Study.com where you can work on any number of courses but are only permitted to get credit for 5 of those courses in any given month no matter how hard you work. This makes Sophia one of the cheapest ways to complete your general education requirements. Sophia is also an ideal credit source for people who have slow connections, who currently lack a webcam, or who do not have access to a quiet testing space at this time.
You may be able to get one free credit from Sophia. They have also had promotions for free months or for deeply discounted memberships. Check if any of these options are currently available before signing up.
Critical Sign-Up Information
When signing up to take courses at Sophia, it is important that you do not fill in the optional information regarding which school that you plan to attend. If you do this, Sophia will give you a school-specific account that will not give you full access to everything that Sophia has to offer. They will only show you the classes that they know will work with a given institution and Sophia's information may be outdated or you may wish to take non-accepted courses for personal development reasons. You might also change your mind about which school you wish to attend after you have taken a few classes at Sophia. For these reasons, you are going to want to have a generic Sophia account.
Once you have signed up, you should also refrain from filling in the optional information regarding which institution you plan to transfer an individual course to or else they may again place you into a school-specific account.
Some Sophia courses have things called "Touchstones" which are assignments that you must turn in to receive a grade. At times, these can take the full 60 days to complete as a result of the delays in grading times. There are currently 6 courses with touchstones at Sophia. Because you may only have 2 courses active at any one time, a good strategy is to have only one course with touchstones at any one time. This will allow you to work on the other courses while waiting for your grades/feedback to be posted so that you may continue on with the work. For instance, you might choose to work on the history courses while waiting to get your essays for English Composition I returned.
Please note that the following times are not guaranteed. Your experience may include longer or shorter periods between submitting your touchstone and receiving a grade. Some people have submitted their lengthy touchstones and received a grade back almost immediately while others had to wait several weeks. It is always a good idea to budget for the worst-case scenario just in case.
Business Law, College Readiness, and Foundations of English Composition have very short and easy assignments so that with these classes you can generally expect to have your touchstones returned with a grade within 1-2 business days. The others have more involved assignments that may take upwards of 5-10 business days each to get a grade, depending on how busy they are. If you are hoping to take English Composition I & II as well as Public Speaking in order to fill requirements at The Big 3, you should be ready to spend 4-6 months on those courses (currently $316-$474 total); during this time, you may be taking any/all of their other offerings while you wait for the touchstones to be graded.
For the most part, the order of Sophia courses does not matter. For instance, it doesn't matter if you take US History I before or after US History II. There are a few notable exceptions when you are trying to maximize your Sophia experience.
- Introduction to Relational Databases is not a good elective course for most people due to its difficulty. Do not be fooled by the ease of the Introduction to Information Course; this one is nothing like it. This is a lot of work. It is more time-consuming and challenging than "Computer Science 303: Database Management" at Study.com. Only take this course if you are planning on obtaining a Computer Science degree.
- Developing Effective Teams, Project Management, The Essentials of Managing Conflict, and Conflict Resolution are inter-related and have some overlap with one another. By taking these courses one after another, you'll need to spend less time reading/studying. Suggested order: 1.) The Essentials of Managing Conflict 2.) Conflict Resolution 3.) Developing Effective Teams 4.) Project Management
- Principles of Finance should be taken after any other business courses you're taking. Suggested order: 1.) Introduction to Business 2.) Accounting 3.) Principles of Finance. It may be a good idea to wait until after taking the Micro/Macro economics courses as well.
- Macroeconomics should not be taken until after taking Microeconomics. Concepts are introduced in Microeconomics that are expanded upon in Macroeconomics. It is still possible to pass if they are not taken in this order but it may be more difficult than anticipated.
- Introduction to Ethics is more of a philosophy class. Ancient Greek Philosophers should be taken first.
- There is some overlap of basic concepts between Ethics, Introduction to Psychology, and Introduction to Sociology. The order doesn't matter, so long as Ancient Greek Philosophers comes before Ethics.
- Foundations of Statistics is of limited utility for understanding Introduction to Statistics. It may help, it may not. It is highly recommended that you use the available video lessons to improve your understanding in Introduction to Statistics; Jonathan Oster's videos are suggested.
- College Readiness is not required because Excelsior is the only one of the big 3 that grants credit for this course. However, it does have information that may make English Composition I easier. If it's been a while since you attended school, you may want to start with this course even if it grants you no credits. Same with Foundations of English Composition.
Excelsior students who take 2 Sophia courses get their application fee waived and a discounted rate on tuition; tuition discount only available when the student takes 12 credits from Excelsior itself.
Courses at Sophia generally consist of units that are divided into sections called challenges. As you progress through the challenges, you must answer questions based on the material presented in that section. The material may be in the form of text, videos, or audio depending on the course in question. Once you have successfully completed all of the challenges in a unit, you may take the "milestone" or chapter/unit quiz. The English Composition, Business Law, College Readiness, and Public Speaking courses also have additional assignments - called Touchstones - that you must turn in to receive a grade.
Some courses have a different layout than other courses. These can be divided into the old style and the new style. With the old style, you get three chances to answer one question correctly. With the new style, you get one chance to answer one of three questions correctly. The new style layout is often both easier and more conducive to learning because you're given an extra opportunity to retain and digest the material if you didn't understand the initial question.
In order to get credit for a given course, you must have an overall grade of 70% or more.