How to Get Your Bachelor’s in Less Time, For Less (Part II)

photo by Mary Gober

Last week we talked about making sure college is the right choice. Today we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of a non-traditional education.

Pros of non-traditional college:

A non-traditional degree saves money:

The cost of college has skyrocketed in the past decades. After you adjust for inflation, the total cost per year of attending a Public College was $6,320 in 1981. Last year it was $14,870. (See U.S. Department of Education stats)

That’s just shy of $60,000 over the course of four years.

It cost us under $3,000 each for our Bachelor’s degrees.

A non-traditional degree saves time:

No more sitting through long lectures (while chatting on Facebook, like so many students do.) Instead you can listen to lectures while jogging, driving or doing the dishes. Then take tests that you’ve scheduled.

Want to finish sooner than four years? It’s much easier this way. You can test out of multiple classes in a single day.

A non-traditional degree is flexible:

You can study at your own pace, on your own time. Work or family obligations prevent many people from going to school full time. This allows you to earn credit when you have time. You can jam it all in to a year, like Josh. Or, you can work on it a bit here and there, like me.

Cons of a non-traditional college:

It requires self-motivation:

Unlike a college classroom, you’re the one setting the pace. You have to be proactive and study a subject and then schedule the exam.

You miss out on possible connections:

Studying on your own cuts down on distractions, but limits your circle of acquaintances. You also miss out on Career Services or other career placement programs that a brick-n-mortar college offers.

Traditional scholarships aren’t available:

Most scholarships are for traditional colleges and can’t be applied towards CLEP credit (unless things have changed since we got ours.)


Whether or not you want to get your degree the traditional way, I think all students could benefit from obtaining at least some of their Gen Ed classes non-traditionally, through examination.

Up next: CLEP and Dantes exams (and how to use them!) 

linked up at Works for Me Wednesday and Frugal Friday

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  1. Kasey says

    This is where Robbie has been torn…go to a brick and mortar school for the degree program that will take two years, but comes with some advantages. Or go for the certificate program that will allow him to pace himself and work around his job and family life so much more easily and also finish sooner. I’ll be looking for your next installment!

    • anna says

      Can he test out of some of the degree program? For example many schools let you test out of a certain number of classes while still getting their traditional degree.

  2. Nancy says

    Were you able to get your degree from a regionally accredited school? This is such a great series you are writing. I’m looking forward to more.

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