Debt-free Bachelor’s at 19: Aviendha’s Story

Share with deep gratitude to Courtney, our HS4CC Pennsylvania moderator, for her willingness to share her daughter’s amazing story.

Aviendha’s Degree Completion Path


A little background: My name is Courtney, and I was homeschooled my entire life. I took my GED (one of the few options at that time) and graduated at age 16. I started college but didn’t finish for various reasons, namely cost. Later, as an adult, I went back to school when my children were young. When I discovered CLEP, Prior Learning Assessments and Thomas Edison State University (TESU), I knew my lifelong dream of completing a bachelor’s degree was (financially) possible. I graduated from TESU with a bachelor’s degree in Music at the age of 36. I paid about $8,000 total.

Side note: CLEP, Prior Learning Assessments and other forms of alternative college credit can be usually be earned for pennies on the dollar.


My first-born daughter, Aviendha, started the college journey when she was 12. Along with her siblings, she had been homeschooled her entire life. Her first college credit was Astronomy. I was working on my degree at the same time and needed a science credit. She was studying Space in her 8th grade textbook, so I researched any additional info the DSST would require, and we took and passed it together. What a fun memory! (Astronomy DSST credit by exam)

Fun fact: Many HS4CC parents earn college credit with their teens!

I added CLEP or DSST tests to her path any time she was studying that subject in high school. Analyzing Literature was an easy one for her as she excels in Literature. She did well with U.S. History I and II because she was good at memorizing. Sometimes we weren’t sure going in if she’d pass, but she always did. I also made a deal with her that we’d make it a “date” and go out to eat after her test (if she passed). I have fun memories of leaving the younger children with Grandma and sitting in the waiting area while she took her test, her exiting the room always with a nervous smile, and
going out for lunch together afterwards.

When she graduated from high school at age 17, she had about 50 Gen Ed credits, not entirely sure where she’d end up or with what degree. She knew she wanted to study psychology in some form and eventually earn a master’s. We thought she would probably attend one of the Big 3 (Thomas Edison, Excelsior College, Charter Oak) so her credits weren’t wasted. Our focus during high school wasn’t credit-earning; we simply wanted her to LEARN.

Pro tip: Learning should always trump credit earning.


Whether a particular subject earned her college credit or not didn’t matter to us. Nearly all of her Gen Eds were CLEP or DSST, simply because they were more available at that time. Over time, we added a few Regionally Accredited (RA) and ACE courses that she needed. (Read about ACE courses.) Our local Bible college offers one free course per semester to high school juniors and seniors, which added 12 RA credits to our journey- for FREE!

After she graduated high school she started focusing on her end degree and we mapped out a degree plan. At that point she focused all of her energy on school, part-time work, and an active social life (which I encouraged).

She worked with Modern States a bit but by the time they offered the free scholarship she was mostly done with CLEP. She took a bunch of Sophia courses during 2020 when they were free, finishing her free electives and a couple of the required Gen Eds like Speech, Religion, etc. She also used Sophia to fill the Statistics requirement in her Core. Her psychology core utilized courses from the following organizations: CLEP, DSST, Study.com, UExcel, Coopersmith, TECEP, and Sophia, along with the final
Capstone from Thomas Edison State University. Through all of this I continued to offer free meals with every passed course, but she finished them faster than we could go out to eat- I think I still owe her 10!

She graduated at the age of 19 with a BA in Psychology from Thomas Edison State University. We, her parents, paid about $8,000 total. The costs were spread out from age 12 to 19, paying as she earned credit. We did not need to use debt to pay for it. Then, she started her master’s in GeroPsychology (psychology of the elderly) through Grand Canyon University the following week. She had discovered a way to merge her heart for senior citizens with her desire to be an advocate between them and their family/caregivers, and is on target to finish her master’s at the age of 21.

We’re so proud of her hard work and dedication and look forward to seeing where the Lord leads!

More information about The Big 3 and why they are so popular


Author:

Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

One thought on “Debt-free Bachelor’s at 19: Aviendha’s Story

  1. Congratulations, Aviendha! And great job, Mom. You have had a truly impressive journey together. We are so proud of you both!

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