The Big Three

“The Big Three” is a nickname used to describe three regionally accredited colleges that accept up to 120 semester credit hours towards a bachelor’s degree. The beauty of this is an undergraduate degree only requires 120 credit hours to finish. Each institution offers exceptional value to their students, and have proven to be incredibly supportive to adult learners. To earn your degree as quickly and cheaply as possible, you will need to know all you can about at least one of these schools.

Excelsior College:

I chose to earn my undergraduate degrees through Excelsior College. The advisors and administrative team there were extremely supportive. The academic counselors provided great advice on how to complete various degree requirements. They helped me save money and graduate as quickly as I could study. I always felt they were putting my interests first instead of attempting to manipulate me into attending time-consuming and expensive courses. Another great benefit Excelsior College provides to non-traditional students is to assign grades based on standard test scores earned from exams like CLEPs and DSSTs. This practice really helps to build a credible GPA for anyone earning a lot of college credit through college equivalency examinations.

Thomas Edison State College:

I enrolled into a program with Thomas Edison State College (TESC) after finishing a second undergraduate degree from Excelsior College. TESC is a great institution, although personally, I have a preference for Excelsior College due to the great support and help they willingly gave me along the path to earning my degrees. That is not to say that TESC doesn’t provide good support. Many friends of mine, especially from the military, have completed degrees with TESC and were very satisfied with their relationship with the college. One thing that is consistent for all of us was the opportunities earning our degrees opened for us.

Charter Oak State College:

Charter Oak State College is another institution that is hard not to love.  While it is third on this post, it is certainly no less valuable. The institution is a public, regionally accredited college, and a great place to start your academic journey. I have fewer friends that have attended here, but none of them have ever spoken an ill word about the school. Charter Oak State College just like Excelsior College and Thomas Edison State College put you into the reach of completing your degree as quickly and as cheaply as you can satisfy the degree requirements.


STEP 2: The Big Three (Excelsior College, Thomas Edison State College, Charter Oak State College)

2 thoughts on “STEP 2: The Big Three (Excelsior College, Thomas Edison State College, Charter Oak State College)

  • September 10, 2019 at 7:16 am

    Could you elaborate a little more about the big 3 taking up to 120 credits? I thought that you had to do atleast 30 hours at the school of your choice. The website of the big 3 seem to indicate that they only take up to 90 hours unless there are other options I do not see.

    • November 1, 2019 at 3:38 pm

      Hello Gary, I apologize for the late reply. I’m currently deployed in Afghanistan and your legitimate comment was buried under a lot of spam. I think you should give Excelsior College a call and speak to them about your situation. While rules change from year to year, I was unable to find a reference to the 90-hour max you referenced just as you were unable to find a reference to the 120 credit hour transfer I spoke about. 120 credit hours were at one point plainly listed on each of the Big Three’s websites. This may have changed, but the process itself for finishing a degree at any of them has not changed. As far as the 90 credit hour limit if one exists, you could easily work around this limitation by finishing Excelsior College examinations which would count as Excelsior credit instead of transfer credit. The point of this is to finish your degree without spending a ton of unnecessary time and money to achieve the same respected level of education you could at any other regionally accredited college.


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