I want to say first of all that this is going to be a loooong post. I also want to ask the reader in advance to pardon me for the rambling nature of this text; it reflects, and is a symptom of, my currently uncoordinated mind. Maybe one or two of you will take the time to read my story, and perhaps someone will provide me with the magic key to the kingdom. Who knows? So with that said, let me begin... First, about me: 28yo male working in a dead-end job. Wife, 2 kids, love my family above all else. Breezed through high school, never had any problems. SAT 1380 ACT 32 composite, both with no prep work. After high school, enrolled in an electrical engineering degree program at UT-Arlington. Met a girl, became disillusioned with my college professors (or that's the excuse I fabricated at the time), dropped out in my first semester, and moved in with said girl. Went to work for a health insurance company, dabbled with a couple of classes here and there, basicly stagnated for a while, but I thought I was happy just earning a living and living life. Wound up making that woman my bride, and we had a baby. When the baby arrived, I decided it was time to finally do something with my life. Quit from the insurance company, went back to school at a private university full time working toward a Biology degree, with plans to enroll in the local Doctor of Physical Therapy program when I was done. Worked full time while I was taking 15-18 hours per semester with lots of labwork. Very busy, hectic, chaotic, and trying time. I handled it ok, the family did not. Grades were mostly good. But it was just too much time away from home for us at the time. Finally had to make a decision - quit school or no more family. So I quit, with about 4 weeks left in that semester. Got into the auto retail business, made a ton of money, had a lot of fun, life was good. I have now spent a little over 4 years in this business (sales, finance, and management), and even before the economy turned sour I became unhappy with this line of work(as dirty as you think it is, it's way worse). Started looking for a career change around mid-2008, then the economy happened. And now that's where I am: a 28 year old man that is severely defaulted on 37k of student loan debt and feeding his family of 4 on the minimum wage that my dealership is legally obligated to pay me. Due to reasons that I won't go into here, I am geographically restricted to this general area of Texas for the next 5 years. And I have to find a job (in a severely economically depressed region) that will actually leave me in the black every month; right now I'm waaaayyyyy in the red, and were it not for family support we would be on the street. OK, the good news starts here: I have an offer to have my education paid for to finish out my Bachelors. So herein lies my quandry. What do I pursue? I cannot attend a b&m campus because if I get a job 60 miles away I would just have to drop out again. So I know I must choose a degree program that is 100% completeable online. Do I attend a state university (UT, A&M, Texas Tech, etc...) for the name recognition value, or do I CLEP out of everything and get my Excelsior degree? I believe my response is somewhere in the middle, but that's why I'm here right now. Do I go through TECU and get the Biology or Natural Sciences degree, or would that degree be worth the paper it's written on (please, no offense intended to anyone, I am simply not well read on these yet)? I would also be open to a b&m campus in another state, as long as the out of state tuition didn't knock my head off. All I know is that I would like to have a degree that doesn't throw any red flags on a resume, would be relevant to some viable industry in central Texas, would increase my marketability, lend itself to entrance into a MBA/MS/PhD later down the road, and can be completed in a year or so. The strongest field I know of around here is energy (i.e. natural gas, oil, wind), but what degree would best enable me to break into that? I had thought about just finishing out in general studies and getting my teaching certificate, but the defaulted student loans preclude me from holding just about any professional license in the state of Texas. They also are a serious knock on my marketability to any company that cares about such things (and I know many do), but as long as my family is a hair away from starving there is simply nothing I can do about them. As far as the question of what do I want to do, well, what I want to do is irrelevant. Doing what you love is a great concept, and I know several people who do exactly that. But my reality is that I have to provide stable, sufficient income for my family, regardless of the field or work involved. I love the world of academia, and hate that I have been mostly removed from it for such a long time. If given the opportunity, I would be a life-long student. But as far as practicality, I need something that will put me in a stable position as quickly as possible. And I have now discovered (admitted) that my lack of education is solely attributable to the fact that I didn't learn to study at a young age, and that I lacked the drive to finish the task. .....If you're still reading..... So I'm open to any and all suggestions. Got a degree-career track that you think would work? I want your input. Do you think an Excelsior-esque approach is my best bet? Please tell me why. My hunch is that a degree from a state university that also offers a 100% online completion program would be more beneficial to me, but none of those provide the scheduling flexibility that I want, and then there is the issue of how many credits can I transfer. I love self-paced study for the fact that I can knock out a class as quickly as I am capable, and so that if my kid has the swine flu I can spend the week tending to him. Being in the business that I am in has dulled my wit somewhat, but I still believe that once I enmesh myself in the academic world, the old synapses will brush the dust off and get me rolling right along. I'm not scared of the coursework (though the thought of jumping back into Organic Chem 2 with no refresher is a little intimidating), and don't want to give up the opportunity to actually learn something in this process. But the bottom line is this - I need to improve my station in life, and it needs to happen right now. Questions/comments/concerns, bring 'em on. I am posting this here because after 2 days of trolling, I believe there are genuinely intelligent, helpful, and accomplished people on here, and that I can learn alot by asking for input. I believe there are probably a couple of people on here that have been in my shoes, and I will be encouraged to know that others have walked this path. I don't mean to come across as whiny or ego-centered; I am simply trying to put all relevant info out there, and I am a little "raw" by nature. Thank you for listening to my story, and thank you to those that make this site available. Transcript following: ENGI ---- (don't remember the course number, was intro to electrical engineering) C 3.00 ENGL1301 Eng Comp and Rhet A 3.00 ENGL1302 Eng Comp and Rhet A 3.00 BUSI 1301 Intro to Business A 3.00 ECON 2301 Prin of Econ-Macro B 3.00 BIOL 2402 Anatomy/Physiol B 4.00 ENGL2326 Rdg in Amer Lit A 3.00 GOVT 2305 American Govt A 3.00 SOCI 1301 Prin of Sociology A 3.00 COMM 1310 Priniciples of Comm A 3.00 ENG 2312 Survey British Lit II A 3.00 HF 1210 Fitness for Living A 2.00 HIST 1320 World Civ since 1500 A 3.00 REL1330 Intro to Christianity A 3.00 BIOL 1401 Prin of Biology A 4.00 CORE 1300 Ethics B 3.00 BIOL 3440 Comp Anatomy B 4.00 CHEM 1410 Gen Chem C 4.00 CORE 2300 Persons/Commun A 3.00 PHIL 2350 Intro to Philosophy A 3.00 BIOL1403 Zoology A 4.00 CSC 1325 Fund of Comp Sci B 3.00 CHEM 1420 Gen Chem II B 4.00 FA 2310 Survey of Fine Arts A 3.00 BIOL 3350 Cell Biology A 3.00 BIOL 3460 Genetics B 4.00 CHEM 3410 Organic Chem I A 4.00 PSYC 1340 Intro to Psychology A 3.00 BIOL3430 Human Physiology C 4.00 =95hours completed. Plus in 2000, I took the AP Calculus I test and scored a 5, so I guess I count that as 3 hours? = 98. As mentioned above, I have dropped out of school twice, so I also have the following F's: PHYS 1401 Intro to Physics F 4.00 MATH 3340 CAL 2 F 3.00 (might have been a 4 hour) CHEM 3420 Organic Chem 2 F 4.00 MATH 3351 Statistics F 3.00 PSYC 4300 Abnormal Psych F 3.00 So you can see that I also have a mediocre GPA, and therefore do probably need a certain amount of actual course work so that I can drive the GPA back up (I hope to attain higher degrees when possible). But I must balance this need with the time and money constraints I am under right now. Again, thanks for sharing!