For many of us, college looms large in the futures of our home-educated
students. In reality, a bachelor's degree is the bare minimum for
many career paths, and there's just no getting around it. If your
child is college bound, you're doubtless not only feeling the pressure
of preparing him academically but also wondering how exactly that
degree will come about financially.
Enter CollegePlus!, a Christian distance-learning program
with the motto "Faster, For Less, For Sure." Co-founded by author
Brad Voeller of the groundbreaking college distance learning primer Accelerated
Distance Leaning, the CollegePlus! program assists
the student in obtaining a degree in one of 30 majors. These are
real degrees, regionally accredited and awarded to the student
by colleges that honor distance learning.
CollegePlus! students earn their coursework credits
through a combination of exams ( CLEP exams,
for instance, are administered by The
College Board ), online classes, and on-site courses from local
colleges and universities. The cost savings is significant; a typical
six-unit course from a private university can run from $800- $1200
(and more!) per unit*, while the cost of a six-unit CLEP
test will run you $77 total. Add the cost of study materials per
test (averaging $50-$100), and it's easy to see how much of a savings
you will rack up over the course of a bachelor's degree earned
by this method. In fact, CollegePlus! lists the total cost
of obtaining a bachelor's degree through their program as just
$10,000 to $15,000.
Having obtained my bachelor's degree from an expensive private
university, I fully understand the dramatic chasm between traditional
college expenses and utilizing an alternative program like CollegePlus! Knowing
that our family could afford to help our children work through
their degrees this way--and that they would come out of the whole
thing free of school loan debt--got our attention immediately.
Our then-16-year-old son Hayden was ready to enroll in January
of 2010. He had already taken a few CLEP exams on his own as well
as a graphic design course from our local community college, but
many if not most high school students who enroll with CollegePlus! do
not have any college coursework under their belts. After Hayden
completed his application online, it was reviewed by CollegePlus! Then
a program advisor contacted him for paperwork and questions to
aid them in matching him with a coach. It took four weeks from
acceptance of his application to Hayden's actual start date.
Hayden's assigned degree coach was a perfect match. From the get-go,
the coach was a great motivator, listener, and guide. He encouraged
our son when his interest lagged a few times over the course of
that first year. Having himself earned his bachelor's degree with
the guidance of CollegePlus! the coach understood firsthand
the ups and downs. They met for coaching calls twice a month, and
Hayden's coach would offer insight into each test, how best to
prepare, and what to study. He cheered him on when his scores were
high, and he continued to encourage Hayden when he didn't pass
a test or two.
We believe that the personalized coaching each student receives
through CollegePlus! is not only the program's core feature,
it is its greatest asset and selling point. Could a parents and
students navigate the road of distance learning and piece together
a degree themselves? Certainly. But doing so takes loads of time,
knowledge of how each degree works and what each university or
college requires, and a steady eye on the changes in schools' policies.
Not only do the CollegePlus! coaches understand the ins
and outs of obtaining a bachelor's degree through distance learning,
they have up-to-the-minute information and even partnerships with
schools like Bryan
Beyond personalized coaching, what does CollegePlus! offer?
During the first two months, students actually study dynamic memory
skills and speed reading. These are excellent skills to obtain,
assisting students in test taking and potentially helping them
get their degree in a shorter amount of time than typically expected.
Students also take a life purpose planning course, which helps
them further evaluate skills, opportunities, and aptitude. Once
testing begins, CollegePlus! provides study guides, Internet
resources, and other helpful tools. With so much guidance, a CollegePlus! student
should never feel abandoned on the road to obtaining a degree.
It has been a year since Hayden enrolled with CollegePlus! He
has earned 36 course units through seven CLEP tests and one junior
college course, which puts him at roughly halfway through his sophomore
year. He's not yet 18, so the fact that he'll likely have his bachelor's
degree by 19, at a mere fraction of the cost, is a gift we know
he'll fully appreciate when it comes time to take on the expenses
of adult life. At this point, he's pretty certain he'd like to
go on to get his master's degree, but in between degrees he'd like
to work a little and travel too. Certainly, had he chosen a more
traditional route, he would be working to pay back exorbitant school
loans, and travel might be a dream far off in his future.
We have no reservations about College Plus! Although
it might not be a perfect fit for every student and situation,
it certainly has met all of our expectations and then some. In
a day and age when bachelor's degrees are an expected part of the
resume, earning one "Faster, For Less, For Sure" is a blessing
and advantage our student will enjoy thanks to College Plus!
*Sample figures are taken from the cost estimates provided online
by both the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA and Belmont
University in Nashville, TN. Online positing of tuition from Biola
University in La Mirada, CA, as of January 2011 is $1202 per unit.