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Earn College Credits During Your Free Time!

It is common to hear about students earning college credits during the summer or even winter breaks, but did you know that many of our students and adults are earning credits during their free time? Whether it is at night, on weekends or a couple of hours here or there, you can be earning college credits. We have even had people earning credits during their break hours at work, school study halls, or even the bus rides to and from their destination! It really doesn't take much time at all, and many of these options don't even require you to step foot on a college campus.

Of course, summertime is a perfect time for many to crank out a few extra credits. On average, our students can earn about 3 credits every two weeks during the summer. Many combine the various options. For example, one may be taking a local class at the community college while also be studying for a CLEP or DSST test or taking a self-paced online course at night or on weekends at the same time. Some may be earning credits through an internship, taking a few DSST or CLEP tests, as well as putting together a portfolio. Others may want to combine travel with earning credits. Still others may only have a few minutes of extra time here or there and could use that time studying for a test to take for credit, or maybe plug along on an online course. Whatever your situation, there is time and opportunity for you to earn some credits.

Below are a few options for you to get you thinking about how you can effectively spend your extra free time this summer (or in the upcoming year).

-Community colleges offer a multitude of classes during the summer and winter breaks, as well as night courses, and many are even offering classes on weekends only.

-Many colleges offer summer courses either on campus or online

If you don't want to spend time on a college campus, there are many other options available:

- Eighteen hundred institutions around the country accept ACE credit, and if you go to their site (American Council on Education), you can find a listing of the hundreds of classes they have available for you to take online

-Study and take a CLEP (College Level Examination Program) exam. You can view the various tests they offer and find a testing site near you. Depending on how well you are already familiar with the information, you may not need much time to study before you feel ready to go in to take the test.

-The same goes for a DSST test (which is like a CLEP exam). Again, go to their website for ideas on which tests are available.

-Take the Excelsior College Examination- These ECEs (Excelsior College Examinations) are accepted in turn for college credit at hundreds of other universities. They have over 50 tests in a variety of subject areas. Thomas Edison State University also has a variety of tests found under the heading TECEP exams.

-If you only have a short amount of time, you can take some FEMA tests online for free. Many of these take only a couple of hours or less to complete and are worth 1-2 credits.

-Find an internship or work experience that will either give you summer credit or that you can develop into a portfolio for credit. is a Prior Learning Assessment program and 6-week portfolio course. There is a possibility that you could earn college credit for something you already know.

-You may want to combine travel with earning credits as well: Broadreach & Global Educational Adventures give credit. According to their website: "On 70+ summer adventures in 40+ countries, our students have pursued their interests, unlocking the world, understanding its people and finding themselves along the way. They’ve earned 10,000+ college credits in subjects ranging from marine biology and medicine to Spanish and photography, and more than 33,000+ certifications through hands-on education. They’ve logged over 134,000 community service hours while making the world a better place, and traveled countless miles across oceans, off beaten paths and into ancient cultures." Or earn credits in Costa Rica (, Ireland (, or study abroad, to name a few.

-Worldview Summits are another way a couple of weeks "at camp" could earn you some credit.

-Or on your free time log into a site like Straighterline, Shmoop, Aleks, or Saylor and take a class offered from a variety of subjects, from the comfort of your own home.

If you get creative and think about how much extra time you actually do have and how you can use that time efficiently, you may find that getting your college degree can be accomplished more quickly than you ever imagined! Summertime is a perfect time to either get a jump start on your credits, or earn a few so next semester won't be so demanding. It's also a great time to combine some of your loves with your goal of getting your degree (like traveling, studying abroad, working as an intern, going to a Worldview Summit, etc...) One summer my son combined a travel experience with getting his scuba license (which he kept up) and his school gave him credit for both! And both of these were activities he was going to do anyways. Why not combine experiences you are probably going to do regardless, with earning some college credit (if possible??) As you'll always hear me say, it's better to kill two birds with one stone- as well as being easier and cheaper!

So, enjoy your summer- but it may also be a terrific time to be reaching your goals as well!

NOTE: As always, make sure your end college will accept the college credits you are trying to earn before you go all "hog wild" with these. Some colleges will accept a few, others (like the Big Three) will accept most, if not all.

Be sure to check out our webpage College Out of the Box, our You Tube videos, and our Facebook page for interesting articles, more ideas, coupon codes, freebies, etc....