Best Online Colleges for Busy Adults

Are you a busy adult who is looking to earn your college degree? Are you worried that you don’t have enough time to commute to a campus? Or maybe you’re worried about the cost of traditional college tuition. If so, then online college may be the right choice for you. Online colleges offer the same rigorous curriculum as traditional colleges, but without the hassle of having to commute or the expense of tuition. And many online colleges now accept transfer credits, so if you’ve already started your college education, you can finish it online! So what are you waiting for? Start browsing online colleges today!

Best Online Colleges for Busy Adults

1. Charter Oak State College

Charter oak is historically one of the most hackable and transferable adult learner friendly schools out there. They have been helping adults’ graduate college quickly and inexpensively for years. How do they do this? Well, they are very transfer friendly and they love alternative credit like CLEP, DSST, and UExcel exams and even some Sophia Learning and StraighterLine.

They even have prior learning assessment at their school where you can get credit for things that you already know. They have an awesome degree program called general studies about two-thirds of it is either general education or free elective so it’s really easy to transfer credits or bring alternative credits like CLAP and DSST into it so that you can graduate quickly.

Even though it’s fifth on this list, Charter Oak is best at one thing among all of the colleges that I’m going to talk about today and that’s at graduating students. They have a 51 percent graduation rate. The online college graduation rate average is somewhere south of 40 percent.

But what brings Charter Oak down on the list? Well, first of all they charge $419 per credit hour which is kind of a lot for an online school. Additionally, while they accept some Sophia and StraighterLine, they don’t accept a ton. Because of all of this, you can still graduate from Charter Oak within a year but it is going to cost you around like $16,000 so it’s a pretty good school.

2. Liberty University Online (LUO) and Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

Tied for fourth on my list are Liberty University Online and Southern New Hampshire University. These two schools are very similar. Like all schools on this list, neither is a for-profit and both are regionally accredited; both of which things are pretty important. Both schools love transfer credit and both of them have very flexible degrees to choose from.

So like with SNHU, their general studies degree is very flexible and with Liberty University their interdisciplinary studies degree is really good. Because of the flexibility of these degrees, it’s really easy to transfer credit into them or use a lot of CLEP, Sophia, DSST, UExcel, and stuff like that to be able to hack and earn some of those credits outside of the classroom.

In fact, those degree programs are so flexible and the schools both only have a 30 credit residency program which is fairly standard for the schools we are talking about today. Because of that, you could potentially hack 75 of each degree even better though both schools give a lot of credit for prior life experience especially military experience.

So if you go to one of these schools like with Charter Oak, you might end up showing up and just having college credit waiting for you. I mean there’s usually like a vetting process but you get what I mean. Plus both schools are among the cheapest online colleges out there though one is cheaper than the other. LUO charges $390 per credit hour but if you go through straighter line you can bring that down by $15 to about $331.

Then SNHU is hands down one of the cheapest online schools I have seen with just a flat price of $320 per credit hour because you take a minimum of 30 credit hours through their school and their courses if you hack it right and bring enough transfer credits and CLEP credits and things like that. I mean you are looking at under $15,000 for either one of these schools.

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Now the reason that these two schools aren’t higher on my list is that they both have really bad graduation rates; LUO is at 31 percent and SNHU is at 37 percent and these low rates aren’t because these schools are so challenging or difficult. Sometimes a low graduation rate means that a school has unnecessary blocks to graduation or like kind of useless difficulties.

Sometimes it means that they don’t provide all of the support that they could to students who struggle with learning but in this case I would say it probably has a lot to do with the fact that they have very open admissions rates which means that they accept a ton of students who apply and not all of those students are ready for college. So they start the classes, realize they are way in over their head and they quit and drop out.

Whatever the case, about two-thirds of students who go to these two schools don’t graduate and end up with more student debt or less money than they started out with. At the same time though, those stats don’t predict your success. If you can follow instructions, have a good work ethic, and have the free time to be able to take the courses, I’m not even worried about you because you are going to be fine. So for the right student, these two online colleges are really good for busy adults.

3. Excelsior College

Excelsior College is a really dynamic school and there is a lot of reason for them to be on this list. First, like the fairly obvious they accept a lot of alternative credit like CLEP and Sophia. Also, they offer credit to you for experiences that you have in life. They are particularly cool for two unique reasons. First off, they advertise that only seven credits of every degree plan has to be completed through their school; no other school offers this or advertises it.

That means that you could put a ton of Sophia and CLEP and all sorts of hacking options into this and end up taking like three classes; that’s insane. The second reason they are so cool is because they basically designed their own CLEP exams called the UExcel exams. There are about 58 of these exams and you know they are good because almost every other single school on this list that we are talking about today accepts those UExcel exams for credit just as if though they were CLEP exams.

Now some of those schools don’t accept every single UExcel exam but Excelsior does so. If you go to excelsior, there are more options for ways to hack a degree than at any other school. Because of this you can test out almost an entire degree program which makes Excelsior incredibly affordable like we are talking under $700 if you play your cards right.

But why is Excelsior not higher on this list? Well, first it’s because their graduation rate is pretty low at 34 percent and second because they charge $510 per credit hour which is a lot for an online school. But if you are only having to take seven credit hours maybe it’s not so bad.

4. University of Maine at Presque Isle and Western Governor’s University

There are two schools that tie for second place the first one is University of Maine at Presque Isle and the second is Western Governor’s University. Western Governor’s University is one of the biggest online college programs in the entire world right now and the University of Maine at Presque Isle is almost completely unknown.

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However, they both offer something really cool and that is subscription-based competency model learning. Basically, what that means is that you sign up and pay a flat dollar amount for a certain portion of time and then you can take as many courses as you can make it through.

They give you the course material, the videos, the textbooks, and every other material you need for that course. You go through it and as soon as you feel ready you take the final test or project or essay or whatever. If you do well enough, they say congrats you passed you get the college credit and move on to the next one.

That’s an amazing system that’s the way learning should be not hey you have to sit in a class for 16 weeks and prove that you learned something by like sitting there and listening for a certain amount of time. Rather you should have to prove that you know the skill and once you know the skill then you can move on like that’s the way it should work.

Both schools are very inexpensive. For instance, Presque Isle charges $1,400 for eight weeks and Governor’s costs $3,700 for six months. So technically, Governor’s is cheaper per week because you basically buy in bulk. But if you only need like one or two classes through the school or you think you can do them super fast, then technically Presque Isle is going to end up being a little bit cheaper.

Between the two, Presque Isle seems to be a little bit more alternative CLEP, DSST, Sophia, and StraighterLine credit friendly. Western Governor University process is a little bit more on a case-by-case basis where they don’t share their equivalency so much online and you have to submit your transcripts to them and then they will let you know what they accept. So it’s a little bit more mysterious and a little bit riskier but they are still going to accept a lot of that kind of credit.

The other big benefit for Presque Isle is that they have one of the single most hackable degrees that I have ever seen. I mean sure you still have to do the 30 credit residency requirement of courses through their school but like everything else can be tested out so easily. There’s so much flexibility, so much choice in what credit you want to apply, where.

Governor’s, on the other hand, has a very rigid system and very specific courses they want you to take with them. It’s basically their way or the highway but their way is really good. At an average college student pace, you would graduate from Western Governor’s in about three years for around $22,000 but with a little bit of effort, some alternative credit, and you know some work ethic you could pretty easily cut that down to like $9,000 in one year. It’s just going to be a lot harder to know exactly which alternative credits are going to come in and which courses.

The other big plus for Western Governor’s is that they graduate 47 percent of their students and from all I have seen they have a pretty hands-on advising process. So Western Governors is a really good school for you if you don’t want to do like a traditional hacking of college which I realize is an oxymoron. But if you really want to hack school and go through it really fast and inexpensively, Presque Isle is one of the best that I have seen.

5. Thomas Edison State University

The number one best online college for busy adults is Thomas Edison State University and there are so many reasons. First off, they accept so much transfer credit and alternative credit like CLEP, DSST, and UExcel exams. Second, they have one of the highest graduation rates on this list at 46 percent which is pretty awesome. Third, they have several very flexible degree programs at least one or two where you can test out of at least 90 credit hours.

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While they do have a 30 credit residency requirement of courses that you have to take through the school, like most of the online schools on this list, they let you do it in a unique way. This is because like Excelsior, they homemade their own sort of version of CLEP exams called the TECEP exams and with that 30 credit hour requirement you can fill up with TECEP exams.

So it’s basically like taking CLEP exams to fill up that 30 credit requirement. There are about nine credit hours in any degree program that you can’t really test out of but that means that in some of the degree programs there are only nine credit hours you have to actually take courses in. Furthermore, their liberal studies degree program is one of the best ones to make this happen with.

Now the one negative about Thomas Edison is that they are slightly on the more expensive side. For out of state students, they charge $519 per credit hour which yes is a lot. So for nine credit hours, that’s $4,700 but if you pay the flat fee for a semester the flat semester rate is $4,639. So if you take 12 credits in a semester or 15 and you use that semester fee all of a sudden the price gets a lot better.

All in all, the whole degree comes out to graduating for under $8,000 easily within a year. So the reason that TSU is at the top of this list is that they graduate students better than most of these schools. They are cheaper than most of these schools and they are more transfer friendly than most of these schools.

Also, they have a more flexible degree program than most of these schools and they let you test out of the 30 credit hour residency requirement. All of that together means that Thomas Edison is an incredible online school for busy adults looking to go back to college.

Bottom Line

We all know that going back to school is a big decision. It can be tough to find the time and resources to do it. But what if you could get a college degree without quitting your job or leaving your family? With online colleges, that’s now possible. Check out our list of the best online colleges for working adults and see how you can take the next step in your career.

Hacking college or going to college is more than which college is the best, what it’s really about is finding a college that will help you accomplish your goals and that’s why I always advice people to backwards plan. Like where do I want to be once I graduate college and then we ask the question which college will help me get there? Otherwise who cares? Knowing where you need to be is vital before you can take the first steps.

Although I think that Thomas Edison is the number one school but any one of these online school for busy adults might actually be the number one school for you based on your needs and what you are looking for. So I advice you review them all, do your research. Happy hacking!

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