The Nontraditional College Student by Libby Hancock – Save Money and Time and Still Earn Your Degree (By Luthando)

Are you, or anyone among your family and friends, interested in pursuing a college degree, but don’t because of cost, time constraints, or resistance to spending additional time in the classroom? If so, then the new book, “The Nontraditional College Student,” by Libby Hancock, will prove beneficial.

Hancock, 23, is a Cleveland, Ohio-based author, who completed a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications in three years, graduated with a high GPA and honors; and spent less than $15,000 on the entire process.

Home-schooled, Hancock dispels common perceptions of attending classes in pajamas and a lack of socialization. She completed the Ohio requirements for high school graduation, passed the ACT with a good score; and pursued a college degree. Her parents told her she would need to finance her own advanced education.

Hancock used two non-accredited institutions to assist her in earning her degree-College Plus and Verity:

College Plus. This institution helps students discover or confirm their career path. Its attributes include class planning, study resource recommendations, and an assigned coach (mentor). The entire program is Internet-based.

Verity. While similar to College Plus, Verity has its differences, including emphasis on discipleship and spiritual growth. It also offers on-campus learning near downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.

CLEP (College Level Examination Program) exams, DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) and TECEP (Thomas Edison State College Examination Program) allowed Hancock to study on her own; and then take corresponding tests. She describes the process how to convert successful testing into college credit.

CLEP. Currently a way to test out of 33 college classes offered by College Board (the same company that created and administers the famous college readiness ACT tests). All CLEP tests are computer-based and last 90 minutes.

DSST. The military originally designed this testing for military personnel and it now accommodates the general public too. DSST is an acronym for DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (where DANTES stands for the United States Department of Defense’s Defense Activity for nontraditional Education Support program. It currently offers 37 courses.

TECEP. Its testing is combination of multiple choice questions and essays. Hancock describes it as one of the more challenging ways to earn college credit because the website doesn’t offer a detailed breakdown of topics (as do CLEP and DSST).

“One key to receiving great grades in school is discovering your learning style, and then sticking with it,” Hancock says.

Reading textbooks, taking notes and tests can make for a classic case of burnout. Hancock offers tips to help diffuse the monotony of studying, including:

  • Plan the use of your time.
  • Organize your work area to help organize your brain.
  • Mark up your books. If you rent your textbooks, consider taking notes on your computer, print them out and then color-code them for easy reference.

“Being motivated to stay focused on the task at hand and to work hard and fast was not a skill I was born with,” Hancock says. She had to learn to set achievable goals. “Self-motivation takes work. It won’t simply “happen” overnight.”

The American Council on Education (ACE) recognizes most free, online Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) courses. If emergency response aligns with your career goals, Hancock describes the process for converting their completed courses of college credit (fee-based).

ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces) focuses on mathematical studies and is another method to obtain college credit, which Hancock describes.

Hancock endorses doing an internship during college. She emphasizes the importance of logging all of your accomplishments and keeping records for the work you produce for your portfolio.

She herself received an unsolicited invitation via email, to do an eleven-week internship at NASA Glenn Research Center in the Community and Media Relations office.

Hancock enrolled at Thomas Edison State College (TESC) because of their flexible transfer credit policy. She took classes online and learned via online discussion boards, written assignments and final essays or tests. TESC also grants credit for prior learning, showcased by their Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), which features 84 classes in 31 different subjects. She graduated on campus in downtown Trenton New Jersey in October 2011.

“The Nontraditional College Student” is a concise, informative, and inspiring read. Hancock teaches you how to earn a college degree for less money and time. Even if you choose not to pursue your whole degree in nontraditional ways, you’re bound to find tips to help customize your advanced learning.

Hancock recommends “How To Become A Straight-A Student,” by Cal Newport. Discover more about the book at:


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