Any time you are using your head and trying to figure out what the best option is—car, brand of frozen pizza, or university—I’m in support. I promise I’m not here to convince you my school is the school for all. I’m only writing this to shed some light on how I decided on a school for myself, as well as encourage you all to think through this and try to make a smart choice.
Choosing a 100% online university option is probably the least glamorous option possible. All the college and studying, none of the friends or poetry readings on the lawn. Also, there’s not much school pride attached with a degree you earned from your dining room table. Which, you know, is important to some people.
I chose a school based on my priorities. I recommend that.
I was broke. I am broke. I’m not sure when I won’t be broke anymore, but maybe someday. I wanted to get a degree, and I needed it cheap.
Testing out of 23 classes with CLEP exams, and an additional 8 classes through Study.com, and one through Sophia, I was able to earn 95 credits towards my degree. Since a Bachelor’s degree is only 120 credits total, and those 95 only cost my about $1,700, I felt that that was a good place to start.
Yes, I needed 25 more credits to graduate, but more than that I needed a school that would accept those first 95.
Most schools won’t.
I dream… of a world where every college will accept this many or more alternative college credits and everyone can earn their degrees debt-free.
But today is not that day.
Most public universities will accept at least 30 CLEP credits. That’s great! You can save the costs of a full year of school! But after 30, 60, or whatever their cap may be, most schools want you to earn your credits through them. As a business model, it makes enough sense as long as there are still people to buy into it.
For those of you looking into a major that still requires in-person classes (many science majors like nursing, engineering, premed, etc.), a viable option is to earn your Associate’s (two-year) degree through alternative credit, from a school with an open transfer policy, and then take your third and fourth years at a university. Still cuts your degree cost in half, and you could have the Associate’s by the time you graduate high school if you start early enough!
Open transfer policy: a policy only a few schools have that allows you to transfer in almost unlimited college credits from almost any college credit sources to apply towards your degree.
There are three schools primarily recognized for their open transfer policies, often referred to as “The Big Three”. The Big Three are all online universities which award real, fully accredited degrees, but allow in high numbers of alternative credits (far more than the 30 usually allowed at most traditional colleges). The “Big Three” are:
As you decide where to go to college and you’re weighing your priorities, I just encourage you to think. If money is your top priority like it was mine, there’s a very good chance that trying alternative college methods and graduating from one of the Big Three, while not the most glamorous and prestigious choice, could be the best option for you.
If social activities and having lots of peer interaction is why you’re spending four years and tens of thousands on college is your goal, alternative college and the Big Three are probably not for you.
TESU does, keep in mind, require applicants to be at least 21 years old to enroll. Charter Oak, on the other hand, admits students even still in high school and allows GRE credits to be applied to some degree plans, which is potential for very affordable upper-level credit. There are pros and cons everywhere, but TESU just calculated out as the best choice for me, with my existing credits and degree plan, seeking an English degree.
This post could go on for days, but I’ll leave it here.
If you are intrigued by this, but need to hash it out a little more, book an academic coaching session with me! I can answer your questions and help you find the path of least resistance to reach your goals. Send me a message via my contact page and I’ll be in touch!