I will share how I obtained a legit, accredited, fast, online bachelor degree within less than a year, without having set foot in a classroom. When I first discovered this was possible I was ecstatic, but a bit skeptical, too. But reading others’ firsthand accounts set my mind at ease, and I immediately took action, and everything fell into place.
A little background
I had a good career in the oil industry for 6 years, but I decided I wanted to make a life for myself in Japan after having visited the country many, many times. One thing was holding me back though, and that was the four year college degree working visa requirement.
Not wanting to spend the next four years accumulating debt and sitting in classrooms and graduating at 30, I searched the internet for a way to expedite the process.. The quickest option I found was to buy a fake one, but the risk of being caught was too great; and I’d probably have a guilty conscience. I continued to search for other options. I found Western Governors University, which is self-paced. I called WGU to make an enquiry but since I had no college experience, they wanted me to take an English and math course at my local community college, or an online school, before they’d allow me to enroll.
So I signed up for American Military University, an online school that offered 16 and 8 week courses, and they are relatively cheap and have a variety of bachelor programs. Remember, I was also traveling to and from an oilfield every month so community college wasn’t an option.
Anyways, I figured if I worked hard I could complete a degree in as little as 3 years at AMU. However, it proved to be much tougher than I’d imagined. Working 16 hours days on average and typing up essays and participating in online discussions proved to be impossible. After one 24 hour day, I missed an essay deadline. The work and lack of sleep was too much, so I dropped out in the first month.
Yet, still, I didn’t give up and continued to search for other options. Then I found bain4weeks.com, which introduced me to CLEP & DSST exams (exams for college credit). Then I found Instant Cert and degreeforum.net, two life changing resources that I cannot praise enough.
I did it!
I obtained my accredited bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts in less than a year, all while working. You could even complete yours in less than 6 months, if you have the time to solely focus on this. Imagine how fast you could earn an associate degree. Testing out is not only faster, it’s cheaper. The average one year tuition cost of tuition at a private university is $30,094, and $8,893 for state residents at public colleges. I paid approximately $5,000 to test out of my degree.
How it works
If you’re a college student you might have heard of the CLEP (The College Level Examination Program), developed by the College Board, the same people who created the AP and SAT. The CLEP is a group of standardized tests that can be passed in exchange for college credit, there are 33 exams in total. Passing an exam will give you anywhere from 3-12 college credits, depending on the test. The tests are administered at more than 17,000 colleges in the United States, and testing centers can even be found abroad. 2,900 colleges will grant you credit for passing the tests. The amount of CLEP credits accepted varies from college to college.
You’ve probably never heard of DSST exams (formerly DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) unless you’re in the military. They were created by the United States Department of Defense, originally designed for the military but now are available to everyone. There are 38 exams and unlike CLEPs, several of the DSSTs grant upper level credit. Like the CLEP, the colleges accepting credit from DSST exams and the amount accepted varies.
Both the CLEP and DSST exams cost $80 each, plus a $15-25 testing fee depending on the center.
The Big 3 colleges that will accept all of your credit by examinations
There are three colleges that are referred to as the Big 3. They have no cap on the amount of credit accepted by exams. If you have any previous college credit, these colleges will generously accept it. The 3 colleges are:
- Thomas Edison State College / TESC, where I obtained my Liberal Arts degree
- Charter Oak State College / COSC
- Excelsior College / EC
How difficult are the exams?
They are multiple choice! You are given 90 minutes to complete most of the tests, and the amount of questions for each one varies. What I did for each test was mark every question that I was not 100% sure of my answer. At the end of the test, I would count the total number of marked questions and if they were less than half the test, I knew that I would pass. Never once have I failed.
The hardest test I took was the six credit CLEP Biology exam, which I studied the longest for, about 30 hours . The easiest exam I passed was the CLEP Analyzing and Interpreting Literature. I studied as little as three hours for that exam and walked out of the testing center with 6 credits. If you’re a native English speaker, I bet most of you could pass that exam with no study time. I studied an average of 5-12 focused hours for each exam, and based of my test scores, I overstudied! Passing the exams proved to be easy with the help of one resource I used for every test.
How I studied for the exams
It would have taken me five times the amount of time to obtain my degree if it wasn’t for Instant Cert. They have a deck of flashcards for every CLEP & DDST exam. These decks contain all the information you need to pass. I read through every deck of flashcards for whatever exam I was taking 3-6 times and that would give me all the knowledge I needed to recognize the correct answers on the actual exam. Remember, the tests are multiple choice; just eliminating the obviously incorrect answers enough. But in most cases you will recognize the answer right away thanks to Instant Cert.
The second important resource you get when signing up with Instant Cert is access to a forum that contains threads for every exam, with pages of posts from people like me who share the exact information they encountered on the test. A supportive group of people share:
- questions they encountered on the exam
- personal study guides
- other resources they used that might be helpful
- how long they studied for the exam and how difficult they felt it was
Using the cards and the forum never failed me. You could sign up for Instant Cert right now for $20 a month, make an appointment to take a test for tomorrow, drill some flashcards for 3-5 hours and review the forum, then you can sit a test and walk out with 3-6 college credits. It’s really that easy. All the groundwork has been laid for you.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I’m going to continue to work on this website and add whatever useful information I can.