College Plus

the time of our lives — a travel journal

This past October, I was blessed to be able to go on yet another week-long adventure with my CP friends.  This time, we met up at two students’ home outside St. Louis, IL.  There were dear friends from the the VA gathering in April and several new faces as well.  The time I spent in IL was chock-full of memories. And the reason it was never blogged about is because when I got home, instead of saving the memories to my hard drive, I recorded them on paper.  You see, I’ve been wanting to make a travel journal/scrapbook for some time and never quite knew how to go about it.  But when I found Xenia’s Alaska Travel Album and I knew I had to make one.  And the gathering gave me the perfect opportunity.

Now that it’s done and I’ve (finally!) taken pictures of it, I’m ready to share it with you!

the adventure begins

the adventure begins

My mother was very glad when it was done.  I had taken over her table and covered it in paper scraps for weeks.(Yes, weeks.  😛 I’m very detailed oriented and I am very happy when surrounded by creative chaos.  See below.)

creative chaos

One of my favorite things about this project was that I had a good excuse to dig through all the little scraps, embellishments, and quotes I had collected and saved for unknown future projects.  And while on the trip, I made sure to save the tangible evidence of the good times.  Things like paper scraps from games, a map my dad had made, ticket stubs, and doodles drawn on the drive were tucked in an envelope and brought home.  Combined with what I already had, there was plenty to stash, glue, and tape into the book.

pages collage 02

Like Xenia’s journal, the days were divided up with tabs.  And at the beginning of each day’s section, I’ wrote out the day’s schedule and activities.


I ended up using some postcards from the St. Louis City Museum as pages in the journal.  A few photos from our day spent there decorated the blank backs.


A word on the St. Louis City Museum: coolest museum ever. 😎  It’s almost more of a giant playground and jungle gym for anyone and everyone willing to run, crawl, squeeze, slide, and be a kid for the day.  Oh, and there’s a 10 story slide, a ferris wheel on the roof, and a school bus hanging off the side of the building.

The week not only filled with memories, but with lots of music.  From Titanium parodies to music wars in the van, the soundtrack for the week was eclectic but oh so fun. 😉


music wars

I ended the journal with hand-lettered lyrics from The Time of our Lives by Tyrone Wells and a quote from the ever-wise Pooh bear — the perfect way to end my travel journal chronicling a simply fabulous week. 😀

the time of our lives

Categories: College Plus, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Accelerated Distance Learning | My College Story

math work


In past posts, I’ve alluded to my college studies, but I thought it’s high time I explained what I’m doing. 😉  I was recently invited to speak at the September meeting of the local chapter of the Eta Sigma Alpha National Homeschool Honor Society about how I’m earning my degree.   The following post is adapted from the presentation that I gave.

I ended up taking a very different college route than what I had always assumed.   But it’s been an incredible journey.   I’ve only been a college student for a year and a half, and I’m already a junior.   I’m doing college online through a program called College Plus.  This is a new & upcoming way of doing college, and I’m excited to tell you about it.  I’m not here representing College Plus, I just wanted to share how I’m earning my degree.  And why I’m not looking back.


Edna Mode

So, what exactly is College Plus?


College Plus (CP from now on. 😉 )is not a college, but a coaching program which guides you through earning your bachelors degree from home at an accelerated pace.  Through credit by examination tests, you can earn credits at a much faster rate than if you were taking the courses at a brick & mortar college.  And once you’ve tested out of as much as you can of your degree, you’ll transfer those credits to one one of CP’s partner colleges, take a (relatively few) online classes, and you are set to graduate!  This method, coupled with a lot of hard work, can give you your bachelors degree in 2 – 3 years.

CP assigns each student a coach to guide and mentor you through the entire process.  Students have twice-monthly phone calls with their coach.  During these calls, questions are answered, plans are made, and strategies are discussed.

The biggest benefit of doing college this way is that your life isn’t completely controlled by a college schedule.  You are able to set your own goals and deadlines, study when it’s best for you, and have the freedom to make changes.  You can go on vacations during the middle of the semester and even have a job or internship.  You are able to say yes to so much more.

And it works!  I have several friends who have complete their degree this way.  And you don’t even have to enroll with College Plus.  You can do this on your own.  But I have found their knowledge, resources, and guidance to be very beneficial .

The College Plus experience is divided into three phases.   The first phase begins when you enroll.  During the first couple months, you learn new study skills like speed reading, critical thinking, and dynamic memorization, and complete a life purpose planning course with your coach.

The second phase is the testing phase. In the beginning, you’ll be testing out of a lot of general studies, so don’t feel like you have to know your major from the very beginning.  Choosing my major was a really hard decision, so I waited as long as I possibly could before taking the plunge and deciding.

The vast majority of the tests you’ll be taking will be either CLEPs or DSSTs.  There are no grades on these multiple choice tests.  You either pass or fail.  They cost about $80 a piece and the testing center will charge a fee of about $25.  Study materials and books will add another $20 or so. So, for a little over $100, you’ve earned yourself 3-6 credits in a few weeks.

One of the major benefits to this method is that you will be concentrating on only one or two tests at a time.  After immersing yourself in the material for 2-4 weeks, you’re ready to test.  It’s so nice not to have to juggle 5 or 6 classes and all their assignments all at once.

Through their partner colleges, CP offers a wide range of majors.   Some of the most popular are General Management, Communications, English, and Music.  But there’s also degrees like Criminal Justice, Entrepreneurship, Accounting, and even Pre Med.

After deciding on your major, you’ll have a call with a degree consultant who will create a personalized degree plan of tests and classes based off the requirements for your degree, your interests and your strengths.  Once you’ve tested out of as much as you can of your degree, it’s time to transfer all those hard-earned credits to a college or university.

Phase three consists of your online college courses.  How many you end up taking will depend on your degree.  But it will be relatively few compared to all the tests you took.  And then, you’re ready to graduate!

Most College Plus students transfer to either Thomas Edison State College (TESC) or Liberty University Online (LUO).  These online colleges accept many more credits than the average college or university.  You could transfer to another college of your choice, but you have to check and see how many transfer credits they’ll except.   TESC and LUO accept around 90.

And overall, the CP route is much cheaper than attending a brick and mortar college.



With the average yearly cost being $5,000 — most students are able to graduate debt free.

Ok, that was all the technical stuff.  I want to tell you how this worked for me.

I began my College Plus journey in January 2012 — the last semester of my senior year in high school.  I took my first CLEP test in mid February.  By graduation, I had 9 college credits.  Today, only a year and a half later, I have 63.  Yes, I’m a college junior. :mrgreen:

63 credits!

I’m majoring in Computer Information Systems and I’ll be graduating from Thomas Edison State College.  Through CLEPs, DSSTs, and some TESC tests, I’ll test out of 105 credits, leaving 15 to be earned through online classes from TESC.

Speeding through my degree, was not one of my primary goals — though it is for many.  I chose College Plus because it gave me flexibility.  I’d grown to love the flexibility that homeschooling gave me and I wasn’t ready to give that up.  I didn’t want college to consume the next four years of my life, dictating when I could go on vacation and how much time I could spend with my family and friends.  This method has given me the flexibility to take off when I need to, have a job, and take time to pursue other interests.

Now, you may be wondering… what about college friends?  One downside to CP is that you’re kinda doing this by yourself.  And when you’re by yourself doing something outside of the traditional college box…. it can get kinda lonely.   But that’s where I found an unexpected blessing — the College Plus student forums.  This is a place where students from around the county — and the world — have formed a tight-knit community.  We exchange study tips, pray for one another when we’re testing, and share life.  There’s threads to discuss everything under the sun, a debate hall, student elections, contests, a forum newsletter, and opportunities for leadership.  Outside of the forums, we keep in touch through emails, texting, Skype calls, and G+ hangouts. I’m constantly in touch with all sorts of amazing people.  My college buddies are all over the US.  California, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Maryland, New Hampshire, Virginia, Minnesota, Louisiana, and Alaska.  It has been well worth the effort to get integrated into this fabulous community.

And while it was great to “meet” all these people online, I’ve also been able to meet quite a few of them face-to-face instead of screen-to-screen.  This past April, one student hosted a gathering at her family’s home outside of Washington DC.

photo credit - Mr. Joe

photo credit – Josef Samuel

Over 20 CP students from all over the US converged for a week full of fellowship, hikes, memory making, Ultimate Frisbee,  Bible studies, DC touring, and more laughter than you can imagine.  (You can read about that adventure here.)  And come October, I’m planning on heading off to Illinois for another incredible week.

So, that’s what College Plus is.  It’s not for everyone, but it was a great choice for me and I think it’s a great option for a lot of students.

Check out the College Plus website for more information.

*This post is NOT sponsored by College Plus.  I’m just sharing my college story.

Categories: College Plus, School, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  A new school year that is — I think in academic years.  In our home, calendars start in July, not January.  Even though my summer was filled with school, I’m loving this year’s fresh start.  Not to mention it’s a good excuse to buy school supplies. 😉  I am especially happy since I’m starting this semester with 60 credits under my belt.  Halfway there.  Yep, I’m a college junior. :mrgreen:



This new year brings a lot of changes for both me and my family.  In addition to my continual studies, I have a new part-time job and I will be co-teaching a class for some 10-12 year olds every week.  And that’s only the things I know about. There’s no telling what the Lord will bring my way before the year is over.  There are tests to be passed, trips to take, work to be done, challenges to face, projects to tackle, goals to reach, and the unknown to explore.   I can’t wait to see how this year’s calendar will be filled.

Categories: College Plus, Life | Tags: , | 1 Comment

adventure is out there!

CP Virginia Gathering 2013

This past week, I went on a grand adventure.  It was filled with laughter, hugs, smiles, silliness, ukuleles, games, music, walking, hiking, Ultimate frisbee, skits, worshiping, praying, touring, picture-taking, and very little sleeping. 😉

The occasion?  My wonderful dad and I traveled the 1,120 miles to Virginia to meet up with some of my dearest college friends from all over the country.


Daddy & I on the hike

Most of us had met through the student forums of the college program that we’re using to complete our bachelor’s degrees.  (Blog post on that coming soon!)  Getting to meet my brothers and sisters in Christ (and college) for the first time in person was beyond amazing.

PicMonkey Collage

To top off this amazing event, we had a professional photographer chronicling the entire week.  Shout out and huge thanks to Mr. Joe for all the amazing pictures he took (many of which are featured in this blog post).  The rest of the photos were taken by myself, my dad, Austin, and my twin Emily.


a few of us on a hike next to the Potomac river

The hike along the Potomac river was one our favorite activities of the week.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect.


the lineup  🙂

Wednesday was game day at the house.  Despite high wind, we played Ultimate frisbee all morning.  After lunch, we laughed ourselves silly playing The Character Game (a new favorite!) and Party Quirks.

Ultimate Collage



In the evenings, we’d all pull out our instruments, song sheets, and hymnals and worship together.  Mr. Josue led us in a week long study of 1st Thessalonians.  Spending time in the Word together was such a special time.

On our last day together, we rode the metro into D.C. and toured some of the monuments, the Library of Congress, and a couple of the museums.  Then we all headed back for a Spanish and English prayer meeting/Bible study with our hosts’ church family.


The Library of Congress


This is the amazing family who opened their hearts and home to all us crazy college students.  Thank you Mr. Josue, Mrs. Terri, Jenn, and Joshua for a wonderful week!


late nights turned into early mornings

the word which is spelt A-A-G-H, exclamation mark

finally getting to hug Cassie

riding the metro

“October, Vulcan, Psychic, Convict, Stark, Oatmeal…”

exchanging Star Trek references with Austin & Drew

setting the pace

meeting Sierra, Kaitlyn, Jenn, and my twin Emily

“I thirst”

deep spanish voices lifted in praise

bilingual Bible study

bottle caps

“She kept catching the frisbee!  It was annoying.”

exchanging contact info


text messages to keep me awake

Categories: College Plus, Life, Photography | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

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