2021 Debt Avoidance education

Back to School #1: Quarantine College 2020-2021!

Greetings millionaires!  When the Covid-19 quarantine began back in March of 2020, I suddenly had a lot of free time to fill.  My daily routine of working out, jogging, reading, cooking, and red wine was going along great, but I needed a “special project” to make the most of my extended work stoppage.

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Luckily, I stumbled across Sophia Learning, an organization that provides online college courses that are accepted by a number of traditional brick-and-mortar colleges.  Sophia’s courses are accredited by the American Council of Education (ACE), and they are accepted by an increasing number of colleges and universities.  Even better, Sophia offered the courses for FREE during the quarantine so that students could continue their university studies at home.  Amazingly, all of Sophia’s courses are pass-fail courses  and all exams are open-book-open-note.  Actually, that’s not true because all courses use PDF files in place of textbooks.  So, instead of open-book exams, you take open-PDF exams.

Let’s see, free courses…pass-fail grading…open-note testing.  What’s not to like?! 

Semester 1

With curiosity and gusto, I signed up for a philosophy class to check out the platform.  The class was interesting and very “doable,” and I finished it in two days.  Well, as many of you already know, I have a tendency to overdo it.  Next, I added three more courses (9 credit hours) to complete a 12-hour semester in a span of ten days.  Here are the classes I completed:

Quarantine College 2020
Semester I: April 12 to 21
Course
Hours
Start
Finish
Grade
DoD
Ancient Greek Philosophers
3
4/12
4/14
91%
3
U.S. History I
3
4/12
4/18
91%
3
Intro to Information Technology
3
4/14
4/17
88%
2
U.S. History II
3
4/18
4/21
90%
3
12 Credit Hours in 10 Days!
** DoD = degree of difficulty **

Semester 2

With 12 hours of credit under my belt, I decided to study for another semester.  Since the courses were free, I figured why not.  Here are the four courses I completed:  

Quarantine College 2020
Semester II: April 23 to May 5
Course
Hours
Start
Finish
Grade
DoD
Art History I
3
4/23
4/26
92%
3
Approaches to Studying Religions
3
4/23
4/26
95%
2
Human Biology
3
4/23
4/30
92%
4
College Readiness
3
4/23
5/5
95%
1
12 Credit Hours in 13 Days!

Semester 3

Around the first of May, I realized that I was averaging a college credit per day.  That’s when I decided to complete 60 credit hours in two months or less.  In other words, two years of college in two months!  Then, I signed up for 14 credit hours:

Quarantine College 2020
Semester III: May 4 to 19
Course
Hours
Start
Finish
Grade
DoD
Environmental Science
3
5/4
5/10
88%
3
Art History II
3
5/4
5/11
93%
3
Intro to Business
3
5/4
5/16
92%
2
Project Management
3
5/4
5/19
86%
3
Developing
Effective Teams
1
5/4
5/18
90%
2
Essentials of
Managing Conflict
1
5/4
5/15
91%
2
14 Credit Hours in 16 Days!

Semester 4

In order to hit my goal of two years of college in two months, I knew that I’d have to take a few course not to my liking.  So, I decided to bite the bullet and take Accounting and Macroeconomics in spite of my less than stellar history in those academic areas.  Not to worry, I hammered four courses in 18 days:    

Quarantine College 2020
Semester IV: May 23 to June 9
Course
Hours
Start
Finish
Grade
DoD
Accounting
3
5/23
5/31
91%
4
Conflict Resolution
3
5/23
6/9
93%
3
Macroeconomics
3
5/23
6/4
92%
2
Intro to Psychology
3
5/23
5/26
95%
2
12 Credit Hours in 18 Days!

Semester 5

At this point in my quest for college credit, I was starting to get a little bored with the coursework.  Instead of giving up, I stubbornly put my head down and ploughed through 12 more credit hours:  

Quarantine College 2020
Semester V: May 25 to June 8
Course
Hours
Start
Finish
Grade
DoD
Microeconomics
3 hrs.
5/25
6/7
83%
4
Intro to Ethics
3 hrs.
5/25
6/6
93%
3
Visual Communications
3 hrs.
5/25
6/8
92%
2
Intro to Sociology
3 hrs.
5/25
6/3
95%
2
12 Credit Hours in 15 Days!

Total Costs for 2 Years of Quarantine College

From April 12th to June 9th (59 days!) I managed to complete 62 credit hours of college coursework.  My total costs were $30.25:  $5.25 to Parchment to send my Sophia coursework to Excelsior College and $25 to update my Excelsior College transcript. 

Let’s see, how much is that per course?  My numbers say $1.47 per course!  Since 60 credit hours equal 20 courses (60 credits / 3 credit hours = 20 course), the cost per course was $1.47 ($30.25 / 20 course = $1.47)  Put another way, my college credits cost 49¢ per credit hour!  ($1.47 / 3 = 49¢)

Semester 6:  Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service

From September 19th to October 24th, I completed nine cybersecurity courses from Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).  Like my Sophia courses, these courses were also free.  The courses were open-note, pass-fail courses that allowed up to five attempts on exams.  Some of the courses were easy and some were much more difficult.  However, the courses weren’t hard to pass with the numerous test re-takes allowed. 

When I finished my last class, I had my ACE transcript sent to Excelsior College where I received 11 hours of course credit.  Not quite a full semester’s worth of credit, but close enough for me!  Here are my TEEX credits:

  • Cyber Ethics (2 hrs.)
  • Cyber Law and White-collar Crime (2 hrs.)
  • Cyber Incident Analysis and Response (1 hr.)
  • Digital Forensics Basics (1 hr.)
  • Disaster Recovery for Information Systems (1 hr.)
  • Information Risk Management (1 hr.)
  • Introduction to Network Security ( 1 hr.)
  • Information Security Basics (1 hr.)
  • Secure Software (1 hr.)

The bottom line:  11 credits in one month!

Semester 7:  Mini Session at Sophia

In March of 2021, Sophia sent out another discount code good for a free month of their online courses.  Once again, I took the bait, signed up for two courses, and hammered them in a week.  Then, I signed up for 1.) Business Law and 2.) Communications at Work and completed the homework and test sections of the courses.  However, my heart wasn’t into doing the written assignments, so I didn’t finish the courses.  Nonetheless, I did complete two more courses during my mini session:

Quarantine College 2021
Semester VII: March 13 to 19, 2021
Course
Hours
Start
Finish
Grade
DoD
Principles of Finance
3 hrs.
3/13
3/15
88%
4
Intro to Web Development
3 hrs.
3/15
3/19
96%
2
6 Credit Hours in 7 Days!

2.63 Years of College in 4 Months

After a year of Quarantine College (4/20 to 3/21) I had completed 79 credit hours of college coursework:  68 credit hours at Sophia and 11 credit hours at TEEX.  That’s the equivalent of 26 regular college courses or 2.63 years of college (79 / 30 = 2.63 years).  While the courses were earned over a 12-month period, in reality all courses were completed in a span of 4 months.  Most importantly, all of my credits were added to my fully-accredited transcript at Excelsior College.  You can see all my credits here at my Credly account; here’s a copy of my transcript.  

What I Learned at Quarantine College:

  1.   You don’t have to spend a ton of money to earn college credit.
  2.   There are a number of sources for ACE courses:  Sophia, Saylor, Straighterline, Online Degree 
  3.   You can also earn college credits via testing:  Modern States and DSST 
  4.   Institutions where upper-level college credits can be earned:  Study.com, Independent Study in Idaho 
  5.   Excelsior College’s OneTranscript service (cost $295) is an great way to consolidate ACE, CLEP, and DSST credits on one academic transcript.
  6.   There is no one way to streamline a college degree.  Your optimization plan will not be the same as mine.  You’ll have to dig in and determine your own plan of action.  
  7.   If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on my college-credit experiment, you might enjoy this interview I did with the guys at ChooseFI.
  8.   Finally, here’s a video I put together about my studies at Sophia.org.   

Final Thoughts

In a future post, I’ll show how I’m using some of these educational alternatives to help my son optimize his undergraduate degree.  What do you think, am I crazy?  Could you use any of these educational alternatives to optimize your college degree?  Might this information help a friend or relative streamline their degree?  If so, please share this post with anyone who might benefit from it.  

Yours in excessive undergraduate credit,

Gerry

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Great stuff once again. I am sure it will help a lot of people.

    FYI, I noticed that Modern States will reimburse for CLEP test expenses too.

    1. Thanks Katsiki! You’re correct…Modern States will reimburse the test taking fee after you pass the CLEP test. Truly free college credit! Thanks for reading, GB

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