College without Excuses

Pursuing a non-traditional degree
through distance education.

Home : College Without Excuses

checkout....Ethics Exam Overview with Approach, Resources and quizes
checkout....GRE Literature In English Subject Exam


Quick Quiz:

(Answers are on the bottom of page.)

1. What are the Big 3 colleges?

2. What is the lowest cost for a regionally accredited semester unit?

3. What is the lowest cost for upper division semester units?

(Home) : College Without Excuses




First Clues that I was “non-traditional”

  • Preschool—kept wandering off, walking home, to say nothing of tantrums
  • Grammar School--The only non-Catholic in my class in a Catholic School.
  • Jr. High--Failing Home-Economics because I “didn’t know how to measure,” when there really was only 2 ounces of milk in the fridge for breakfast. "No, ma'am, I did not mean to write 2 cups."
  • High School--no interest in graduation/prom/senior activities.
    I felt like I was being baby-sat.
  • Jr. College--3rd and 4th semester classes didn’t fill associate's degree requirements that would have been met by 1st and 2nd semester level classes. (By the way... it took 20 years to figure out that there was a "course substitution form.")
  • University—Too much red tape. After one semester at the State College, with pressure from work...
    ...I withdrew.

Where I am now...

August 19, 2009. Got it. Achieved "summa cum laude" on my Bachelor of the Arts, English in Literature.

May 28, 2009. Did it. Completed final final--3 units of upper division credit testing out of Research Methods in Psychology. Requested Bachelors. Now it's just paperwork.

April 2009. Okay..... I dropped the Philosophy Major because the Liberal Arts Team and I figured out that I am just one test away from the Bachelor's if I stick with just Literature in English.

June 2008, 23 years after completing three years of coursework at a community college and one year of coursework at San Jose State 20 I looked at returning to school to complete my degree.
Since then I...

  1. Petitioned the community college of an Associate of the Arts degree in Philosophy. Time spent. One day. Complete.
  2. Completed course at a distance college to “try it out.” Complete (1 unit).
  3. Enrolled in Distance Degree program. Complete (pursuing degree)
  4. Studied and sat for the Literature in English GRE Subject Exam. 5 months studying and 3 hours of testing. Complete (24 units)
  5. Completed one exam and 7 distance courses. (15 units complete. 6 in progress)
  6. I would have two upper level philosophy classes to go to complete my double major:

Bachelors of the Arts Degree in the Liberal Arts
with a Double Major in English Literature and Philosophy.

My Path with Excelsior College

For me the ideal College is….

Regionally accredited Asynchronous Flexible Low Cost

The College must also…

Require no residency Accept prior credit

Other benefits…

Fast / Familiar Web Content is Complete

Challenges with Excelsior

  • Promoted exams and courses are not necessarily the best value.
  • Options are so open and flexible that there may be too many paths to choose.


Top Three Assessment Colleges

ECE -- Excelsior College
COSC -- Charter Oaks
TESC -- Thomas Edison

  • regionally accredited
  • low cost
  • require no residency

National Accreditation
as an alternative to Regional Accreditation

Distance Education and Training Council

For example:
California Coast University

A Few Thoughts:

Are non-traditional approaches appropriate for you?

Work backward.
What’s your ultimate educational goal?
What do you need to get there.

Define your requirements,
then seek the resources that fit.

Verify your information
before investing time and energy.

Is the college accredited? Are you sure?

Social support is available online, but check your “information” with professional college counselors.

Look at what’s nearby. It’s hard to beat California Community Colleges for value.


Assessment Sample

Classroom discussion is:
a) Rarely helpful to me.
b) Sometimes helpful to me.
c) Almost always helpful to me.

As a reader, I would classify myself as:
a) Good - I usually understand the text without help.
b) Average - I sometimes need help to understand the text.
c) Slower than average.

If I have to go to the campus to take exams or complete work:
a) I can go to campus anytime.
b) I may miss some deadlines of classes due to my schedule
c) I will have difficulty going to the campus, even in the evenings and on weekends.

Take the full quiz…..
Distance Learning Self-Assessment
from University of Hawaii


Print resources I used…

Peterson’s Guides

Bear’s Guides

Excelsior Guides

BA in 4 Weeks

Assessment Colleges (the big three):

A few test available for college credit:

GRE Subject Exams,

Best source for used study material was

Here is some of the older source material I used to
design my course of study:


Targeted study material helped prepare for earning credit by exam:

First presented as the morning program to my local Kiwanis services club, "College Without Excuses" is not meant as a complete guide to non-traditional or distance education. There are endless resources in print and online that are much more thorough. A few are listed on thise page. However, this is my best attempt at briefly summarizing my own approach

Back to Quiz Main page

If you made it this far, I would love to hear if this page was helpful.

Quiz answers:

1. Which colleges are the "Big Three" colleges?

Three Assessment colleges that do not require residency are

ECE -- Excelsior College
COSC -- Charter Oaks
TESC -- Thomas Edison

2. What is the lowest cost you can pay per regionally accredited semester unit?

Would you believe $4.33? If you scored in the 80% percentile on a GRE Subject Exam you could earn as much as 30 semester units with Excelsior College. Of course that's if you only include the cost of the test. Since I paid about $400 in books I would paid about $17.67 per unit for 30 possible semester units. I only scored in the 74th percentile, and three units of the 24 I earned were evaluated as a duplication of coursework I already complete. That brings the per unit cost up to 25.24. Then if I factor in two years worth of fees for enrollment and related costs and spread the cost of books for courses I decided not to take, well, then it's more like $71.97 per unit. That's still a great deal.

3. What is the lowest cost for upper division semester units?

Same as above--18 of the possible 30 semester credits awarded for a GRE Subject Exam are for upper division.

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No, that's not me above.... just a photo I bought from --model released.