CollegePlus: My Story

This is not an endorsement for CollegePlus! – these are my own personal thoughts and are not a reflection of CollegePlus! in any way, shape, or form.

CollegePlus!, in short, is an online coaching program that guides individuals toward earning a fully-accredited Bachelor’s degree through self-study, credit-by-examinations (CLEPS, DSSTs) and online courses in as little as two years and for a fraction of the cost of an ordinary brick-and-mortor school. Most students graduate through Thomas Edison State College, but recently CP! has even teamed up with Liberty University. CP! is a Christian company and generally attracts homeschooling high school students/graduates.

Everything started back in January of 2011 when my mom received an email from another homeschooling mom about a video scholarship contest CP! was offering for a discount on their enrollment. We poked around the website a bit and decided to participate in the contest as a fun way to earn some extra credit…and if I won a scholarship to this “college-prep program”, even better! (here's the video)

I didn’t win the contest, but I did receive a discount on my enrollment in CP!. After several phone calls with the company and much prayer & consideration, my parents and I decided to get started. I was fifteen, and a sophomore in high school when I had my first coaching call.

Over the course of a year (February 2011 – February 2012), I earned 33 credits while simultaneously working part-time and finishing high school. It was hard! I failed three tests, grew extremely frustrated at my apparent inability to study effectively, and was forced to depend on God for strength in ways I never had to before. It was a busy year full of many changes in my family (new little brother, new church, new job for me, job transfer for my dad, etc.), much growth in my spiritual life, childhood friends who moved on and new friends who entered.

School was very demanding that first year, but CollegePlus wasn’t just about school for me. It wasn’t about how many credits I earned or how many flashcards I answered correctly or the gap of time I took between tests. Those things are not what I think of when I contemplate the significance of CP! in my life that year.

Since February of 2011, the greatest things I have learned have NOT been Western Civilation, or College Composition, or World Religions, or Psychology, or Marketing, necessarily. Sure, I learned a ton through taking tests, but knowledge in those areas mean nothing if there’s no growth in the rest of my life!

I learned to bring God glory even in the mundane things in life (like drilling flashcards late into the night or spending hours at the library reading books or writing practice essays). I learned to be diligent in my studies, to work hard, to manage my time wisely and effectively, and to serve my family during this unique season of my life. I’ve had countless opportunities to explain to curious people why I’ve decided to stay home and earn my degree in such an unconventional way. I learned to take control over my education, I built on concepts I was already learning in high school, and I began to see the connection between school and the rest of my life. I learned that you can truly learn anything if you put your mind to it and remain studious.

I was only enrolled in CP! for one year, and then withdrew my enrollment. Some students rely on their coaches heavily during their degree progress, but I found I was able to study for and take tests – and pass them – without my bi-weekly coaching calls. I discovered that while I loved my coach dearly and appreciated her, she wasn’t helping me any more than my REA guide or the forums or a friend on Skype in a moment could. Coaching calls became a routine that I didn’t benefit from after a certain point in my education.

In spite of that, my coaching calls gave me an excellent foundation as I was figuring out CLEPs and how to take them, how credits are transferred, and the right materials to peruse through in order to learn the correct information. After a year, however, I took off on my own. I don’t need CP now, but if I hadn’t gone through that year of coaching, I would not be where I am now academically, spiritually, and elsewhere.

Finally, the most important part about CollegePlus! in my life was the community of students I met online. I connected with dozens of like-minded young men and women almost immediately on the forums, on Skype, and on Facebook. I was amazed at how easy it was to talk to everyone. It was like I finally found people who spoke my language! I met girls who desired the same things I desired for in my life and challenged me toward Biblical femininity. I met guys who blew me away with their knowledge of the Scriptures and I admired how they cared for their sisters-in-Christ so tenderly instead of flirting with them.

These CollegePlus! students were from every area of the country, came from an assortment of family and church backgrounds, had a variety of convictions or views on things, and expressed themselves very differently. We were united in that we were choosing to stay home when most people our age weren’t; we were united in our tests (and the joys & frustrations that came with school); and we were united in Christ.

My relationships with these people grew me in my faith and maturity, honed my gifts and abilities, taught me more than I could ever imagine, made me think in ways I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, showed me how God’s working in His church across the country, provided me with laughter and joy during what would otherwise be a very lonely season of my life, and the list goes on and on!!!

And of course, how could I forget to mention that one of those people happen to be my most closest friend, my beloved partner in the faith, and now my husband? I wasn’t expecting friends when I joined CollegePlus! – much less a husband! God surprised me in more ways than I can imagine!!

Sean could be reason alone why I LOVE how CollegePlus! has changed my life!! :D

There’s no denying it. God uses unique outlets to show us more of Himself, to sanctify us, and to change our lives forever. Anyone can relate to that!

CollegePlus!, my coach, and other students have helped to walk me through and discover my greatest passions, dreams, and what I believe the Lord is calling me to do and become. I wouldn’t be pursuing the things I am if not for their influence during those tender years of my life.

From February 2012 until now, I earned another 51 credits, bringing my current total to 84. Getting married and such kind of put a wrench in my plans of graduating by 18 - but I'm okay with that. I'll get it finished eventually.

I am so thankful for these past two years, and wouldn’t trade them for the world. I would recommend CP! to ANYONE! It’s a wonderful “next step” in one’s education. I started when I had no idea what I was getting into, and I continued because I saw it as the wisest use of my time during the last two years. Sure, I never had the “college experience” – but who cares? I sure don’t. Not for a moment do I wish that I had done something else with this time. It has prepared me for the next season of my life (the adventure of marriage…ahhh!), and I feel equipped academically, emotionally, spiritually, and practically for whatever God has next in store: whether that’s doing something grand and complicated (with my grand and complicated Psychology degree… >sarcasm<) or doing nothing more than teaching my children and grandchildren for the rest of my life. I have much more to learn, that’s for sure, but I’m ready!

Disclaimer: I am not brilliant. I’m not someone who has ever been greatly gifted in academics. I’ve only ever really succeeded in writing, and everything else I was just an average/below average student. I’ve failed four CLEPS, and barely passed high school math (actually, the jury’s still out on that one). I have struggled. I put a lot of time, effort, tears, and coffee into every test I study for. I spent ten weeks once on one that takes most people TWO weeks! I wouldn’t for a moment say that any of my success in this area has been because of my own effort. God has carried me, and it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do! Taking CLEPS and DSSTs is NOT the “easy way out.”

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