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

A Year in Pictures – Weeks eleven, twelve, & thirteen

Here’s the next three weeks of the A Year in Pictures challenge.  I’m much further behind posting these than I’d like to be. 😐  Editing, posting, and formatting them in WordPress takes way too much time.  The first eight pictures are from a fall trip to my grandparents farm in Kentucky.  Enjoy!   😀

orange magnificence

Day 71 – orange magnificence

Kentucky pecans

Day 72 – Kentucky pecans


Day 73 – chipmunk

the old smokehouse

Day 74 – the old smokehouse

autumn colors

Day 75 – autumn colors

yellow way of delight

Day 76 – yellow way of delight

frosty leaves

Day 77 – frosty leaves

foggy morning

Day 78 – foggy morning

the best advice

Day 79 – the best advice

study snack

Day 80 – study snack


Day 81 – welcome


Day 82 – yummy

study time survival kit

Day 83 – study time survival kit

first gift

Day 84 – first gift

air plants

Day 85 – air plants

brown paper packeges all tied up with string

Day 86 – brown paper packeges all tied up with string

the Ellie badge

Day 87 – the Ellie badge

Miss Potter

Day 88 – Miss Potter

spice cookies

Day 89 – spice cookies

my great-grandfather's dip

Day 90 – my great-grandfather’s dip

vinison ready to fry

Day 91 – venison ready to fry

Categories: Life, Photography, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

☀ ☼ Things That Make Me Happy ☼ ☀


This post is inspired by my friend Beth. She started a Things that Make Me Happy thread on the online forum where we met. For me, it has become a place to list those little gifts that make me thankful to be alive, the things that make me smile,  and the blessings that the Lord bestows.

index cards
bright colored sharpies
summer lists
friends as close as family
settlers of catan
peasants’ revolt
my Ultimate Frisbee group
who wants to be a winner?
planning jokes
hot tea
tiny dragons with sapphire throats
reachable goals
trips to the library
text messages
ramdom little things that trigger sweet memories
dirt cake
seeing dear friends 4 times in one week
cheesy grins and waves
clouds and breezes on oh so hot summer days
postcards from distant places
milk bubbles
striped paper straws
51 credits
my piano guys t-shirt
Categories: Life, randomness, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 3 Comments

*taps glass with knife and waits for silence*

I have a couple announcements to make. 😀

Firstly — and most excitingly — fellow book enthusiest and blogger, Linda, of I’m All Booked regblogged my The Legacy of Baroness Orczy post.  Thank you so much, Linda!

Secondly, Google Reader is closing today.  Sadness.  I’ve yet to find another reader that does all I want it to, but I’m making do.  If you were using Reader to keep up with my posts, you can sign up for the email subscription by using the handy-dandy button in the sidbar.  ☞

Thirdly, I now have  20 followers!  (And I only know half of you. :shock:) Thanks to each and every one of you for taking the time to read my posts, look at my pictures, and supporting me with comments.  I love waking up the morning after publishing a post and seeing an inbox full of WordPress notifications. 😀

And… I think that’s it for this evening.  I have a test to take in the morning so I need to get to bed at a decent hour.  51 credits is in sight!  Look for another post tomorrow!

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A Year in Pictures – Weeks Eight, Nine, and Ten

The photos for weeks eight, nine, and ten of my picture-taking challenge!  Previous photos can be seen on the page: A Year in Pictures.  Enjoy!

Day 50 - tiny wool fox

Day 50 – tiny wool fox

Day 51 - fabric acorns

Day 51 – fabric acorns

Day 52 - seven sisters rose

Day 52 – seven sisters rose

Day 53 - a lovely lunch

Day 53 – a lovely lunch

Day 54 - serenade

Day 54 – serenade

Day 55

Day 55 – rustic fabric acorns


Day 56 – kale

Day 57

Day 57 – photograph for a school project

Day 58

Day 58 – sleeping kitty

Day 59

Day 59 – homemade granola bars

Day 60

Day 60 – a quick sketch

Day 61

Day 61 – a great CLEP test score! (CLEPs are scored on a *really* different scale)

Day 62

Day 62 – choir music

Day 63 - our backyard compass

Day 63 – our backyard compass

Day 64 - my awesome parents

Day 64 – my awesome parents

Day 65

Day 65 – boring picture, I know. but I took it for documentation purposes, not with photography in mind

Day 66

Day 66 – at a conference

Day 67

Day 67 – bathing beauties

Day 68

Day 68

Day 69

Day 69 – cooking gumbo with my “Grammy”

Day 70

Day 70 – Acacia blossoms

Categories: Life, Photography | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Life Update and Some Randomness 2.0

You know what?  Life is just grand.  That’s the perfect description of my life as of late.  It’s busy, often crazy, and flat-out exhausting.  But it’s also oh so beautiful.

And it’s full of things worth celebrating.  Like passing Business Law.  And having 45 college credits to your name.  And the plan to have 60 sometime in August.  And close fellowship.  And the graduation of three close friends.  And bubbles.  And doors that unexpectedly swing open.  And board games.  And picture-taking.  And laughter.  And hilarious G+ hangouts with people from 5 different states.  And dancing.  And this song☟ (which I’ve had on repeat for days).

So with that, I leave you with hopes and plans to be back very soon.  Thanks to all my lovely readers for sticking around and taking to time to read my ramblings.

Categories: Life, randomness, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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

A Year in Pictures – Weeks Five, Six, & Seven

Here’s the photos for weeks five, six, and seven of my picture-taking challenge!  Previous photos can be seen on the page: A Year in Pictures.  Enjoy!

Day 29

Day 30 - baby brussel sprout

Day 30 – young brussel sprout plant

Day 31 - a darling chicken print out I constructed for my mom

Day 31 – a darling chicken print out I put together for my mom

Day 32 - our neighbor's grandson came over to visit a turtle crossing the yard

Day 32 – our neighbor’s grandson came over to visit a turtle crossing the yard

Day 33 - a lovely two-toned marigold

Day 33 – lovely two-toned marigold

Day 34 - not quite full moon

Day 34

Day 35 - wee folk Tintin & Snowy

Day 35 – wee folk Tintin & Snowy

Day 36 - a weekend filled with Biology study materials, a study in Proverbs, and watching the Emma miniseries with my sister.

Day 36 – a weekend filled with Biology study materials, a study in Proverbs, and watching the Emma miniseries with my sister.

Day 37 - can't wait for the satsumas to ripen!

Day 37 – can’t wait for the satsumas to ripen!

Day 38

Day 38

Day 39 - our new frisbee for playing Ultimate

Day 39 – our new disc for playing Ultimate

Day 40 - ginger blossoms

Day 40 – ginger blossoms

Day 41 - one of our bantams looking for worms in the puddles

Day 41 – one of our bantams looking for worms in the puddles

Day 42 – lake view

Day 43 – the day I met my wonderful friend, Catherine.

Day 45 - a fairytale pumpkin

Day 45 – a fairytale pumpkin

Day 46 – slowly ripening lemons

Day 47 - a stack of cut fabric, ready to be sewn into acorns

Day 47 – a stack of cut fabric, ready to be sewn into acorns

Day 48 - program and ticket from a wonderful performance!

Day 48 – program and ticket from a wonderful performance!

Day 49 - my dad shooting his bow

Day 49 – my dad shooting his bow

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

When life gives you lemons…

I’ve loved lemons for as long as I can remember.  It’s a love that I share with my mom.  We specifically ask for “extra lemon” with our drinks so that we’ll have a cache for refills.  Places that take our request seriously and bring us a bowl full of wedges instead of one extra perched on the rim of the glass get extra points.  Every glass of water I pour for myself has a good squirt of lemon in it.  We go through the stuff like crazy.  So, three years ago we bought a Meyer lemon tree.

It’s first year of life in our backyard was, as expected, rather dull.  No lovely yellow orbs hung from it’s spindly branches.  Year number two, it was feeling a bit stronger and managed to push out around a dozen big juicies.  So when year three came trotting around, we expected oh… 30+ lemons.  That would have been great.  But…

Despite the massive amount of blossoms that bedecked the tree in the spring, we still didn’t anticipate a total harvest of over 250 lemons.  We ate them, we gave them away, we made pies, we gave more away, we decorated with them, we made lemonade, we sliced, squeezed, and well… enjoyed having such bounty.

During the week after Christmas, we decided to harvest the last few before they rotted or froze.  There ended up being 138 “last few”.  It took 2 full evenings to completely process them.

We couldn’t let all that wonderful zest go to waste, so my sister and I wielded  the micro grater and saved as much as we could.  My mom chose to use the zester and thus received lovely goldilock curls.  After the juice was strained, we bottled some for immediate  use and froze the rest in ice cubes trays.  We’ll use these later when we need to make a lemon cake or ward off scurvy. 😉

One of my favorite lemon desserts is Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake.  Enjoy!


For the cake:

~ 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
~ 2 teaspoons baking powder
~ 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
~ 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
~ 1 cup sugar
~ 3 extra-large eggs
~ 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
~ 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
~ 1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the syrup:

~ 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
~ 1/3 cup sugar

For the glaze:

~ 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
~ 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by cooking the lemon juice and sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the syrup over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cooled cake.

Categories: Life, Project, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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