Greetings, Hej, Hola, Ahoj! Here's my story: I grew up as a public school overachiever. I was the kid in gifted-and-talented math classes who got sent into the hall with the computer because the accelerated class was boring him. I went to high school for the last period of my 8th-grade year to take Geometry, because I'd tested out of Algebra I after studying it for three weeks at Duke University's summer program. I started college two years early at a state school, through one of those state-funded "We need more engineers" programs that grants you both your two years of college credit and a high school diploma at the end. I finished the scheduled math courses within the first year, so I devoted the fall semester of my second year to the elective Introduction To Axiomatic Theorems. It was a challenging romp through the mathematical landscape, essentially Principia Mathematica in reverse, in which we began with a core set of axioms and had to establish everything after that by proofs alone. I did well in that course, but it taught me that I didn't enjoy the deeply theoretical side of math as much as I had hoped I would. In fact, I came close to hating it. So my electives for the spring semester swung toward my other talents and interests: Poetry Composition, Oral Interpretation of Literature, and Shakespeare in Performance. After finishing my two years at the state school, I applied to other colleges with the new intention of majoring in English literature instead of mathematics. I put in my applications to Yale (wait-listed), Harvard (slept through my interview due to a power failure and never got another one), Duke (wait-listed), Emory (full scholarship), University of Texas (full scholarship), and Georgetown (tiny scholarship). In the end, despite visiting Emory and liking it a lot, I chose Georgetown. At the time their English program was very well regarded, the classes were all small seminars (even for freshmen), and the diversity of the campus and the city really appealed to me. Unfortunately, when I arrived at Georgetown they refused to accept any of my transfer credit. I had been advised by the admissions counselor for our early-entrance program that it was best for me to apply to GU as a freshman and then seek to transfer the credit. That proved to be very poor advice, as the university insisted that they had a much higher standard for transfer students and I might not have been admitted if I had applied as one. Hence, it would be unfair for them to accept my transfer credit. After months of wrangling, they finally agreed to grant me credit only for the courses that satisfied the core distribution requirements outside my major subject. They declined to even grant me credit for more than one French class, despite the fact that I had placed into 4th-year classes on the placement exam. At the time, this compromise did not bother me too much. It meant I would still need 3.5 years to complete my degree, but I decided to make it an even 4 and enjoy the opportunity to take lots of advanced English courses. For 3 semesters, I did quite well. GPA around 3.6, plus a good group of friends and some fun extracurriculars. Then the wheels came off. The 4th semester brought a breakup with the girl I was dating, followed almost immediately by my parents announcing their divorce. And on top of all of that, I had over-committed myself to my extracurricular activities. Overwhelmed and overwrought, I finished the semester with two Bs and three Incompletes. I knew I had royally screwed up and needed time to recover, so I wrote a letter to the Dean of the college volunteering to avoid the time and expense of an Academic Review Board by taking a year of academic suspension on my own recognizance. She accepted the proposal, and I slunk home feeling a weird mixture of shame and barely-maintained dignity. Cue the sad trumpet. At the time, I fully expected to return in a year. I haven't been back since. The parental divorce divided my parents' finances into the support of two households instead of one, and suddenly there was no money for more college. As my mother put it, "We've paid for four years, so for the rest you are on your own." Luckily for me, I'd spent the entirety of my four collegiate years doing on-campus work with computers. At the state school I'd run a computer lab, and at Georgetown I'd worked for the campus IT department building out networks. So despite majoring in English, I actually had some marketable skills. It only took me a month or two to find a good IT job paying the same as what most of my peers at GU could hope to make in their first job after graduating. Within 6 months of that, I had a promotion. By the time the one-year anniversary of my voluntary suspension arrived, I had saved enough to pay for only half of another year at GU, so I deferred my return for another year and kept working. Meanwhile, I was recruited for a new job paying 150% of what I was making, and since it was on traveling duty for a defense contractor I could get all of my living expenses paid and really rack up the savings. My new plan became "Save enough on this contract job to finish the bachelor's and then go back." But then there was a budget fight in the Congress, the funding faucet shut down, and I lost the job. By the time I found my next job, and it paid me 25% more than the contracting job, I was beginning to question why I was so eager to go back to college in the first place. My career was humming along just fine without a degree. IT was a great field to be in - largely a meritocracy, and I was good at learning new things and quickly demonstrating my merit. So college went on the back burner, and there it has stayed ever since. I now work for a major public company, take home a 6-figure salary, and have options and restricted stock likely worth near-6-figures when they vest. So why the heck am I here? 1. I truly miss academia 2. Despite never finishing college, I have remained a learner all my life 3. Given 1 and 2, why not let all the learning that I already choose to do for my own edification earn me some credentials that might improve my career, or enable me to change it? A natural conclusion. Thus my immediate goal to finish a Bachelor's degree. I'm considering Resumed Undergraduate programs for adults from the likes of Brown, Yale, etc. I know these are highly competitive, but I like the option of participating fully in a bricks-and-mortar campus. However slim the chance, I'd like to try for it. I have the advantage of being single and unencumbered, so I actually have the flexibility to take a couple of years off and focus on my own education. And I have enough in savings and retirement funds to pay my way if no financial aid or scholarship is forthcoming. However, that option has quite a few ticks in the Con column. It would mean taking a leave of absence from work, or resigning if they refused to grant the leave. That would mean delaying or forfeiting my stock options and RSUs. So the real cost of the B&M education would be not only the tuition, room and board, and opportunity cost of lost wages. It would also be the additional opportunity cost of the lost equity. When I do the math on the Brown program, for example, the net cost of doing their resumed program becomes a scary-big number. And that is what brings me here, looking for options that will enable me to finish my degree without that massive opportunity cost. The key qualifications that matter to me are: 1. Regionally-accredited (or equivalent, if foreign) 2. Reasonably prestigious, because I will probably want to continue on to post-graduate programs and would like to be highly competitive for highly-selective programs 3. Mostly distance-based, but some residencies are acceptable 4. Will accept transfer credit from 1990-1994 Qualifications of only slightly less importance: 5. High level of instruction/quality of educational experience. I've been self-taught most of my life, so I could certainly make it in a hardcore self-starter-oriented program like the University of London. But I would prefer an environment that is animated by great tutelage and lively high-level debate. I don't believe that online delivery is anathema to these qualities, although it is admittedly a weaker incubator for them than the B&M classroom. Qualifications of minimal importance are: 6. Work-related subjects, because there is no tuition reimbursement at my company, so I might as well pursue what I like. Still, it can't hurt to take some classes of immediate value to my career. 7. Cost, because as long as it offers value commensurate with the cost, even an expensive distance program is a great savings over the aforementioned bricks-and-mortar opportunity cost. Still, a penny saved is a penny earned. Sadly, #4 and #5 eliminate the otherwise excellent University of London from consideration. If it were #5 alone I'd keep them on the short-list, but their window for Accreditation of Prior Learning is only 5 years, so I would be starting from scratch in any of their programs. So at present, Harvard Extension is looking like the front-runner. I'll confess I find the prescribed wording for the degrees petty and unnecessary, but ultimately their graduates seem to achieve the kinds of results I want, including going on to some top post-graduate programs at the likes of Yale, Oxford, Harvard proper, etc. I am open to other suggestions, though. In conclusion, why yes, I am a verbose m^%$^f&^&*%. :redface: Thanks for your attention, and for offering this board with its great wealth of information. I look forward to participating in the community as I complete my journey from long-time drop-out to credentialed graduate. - Cogi ps - A tasty white chocolate macadamia nut cookie for anyone who can identify the source of this thread's title.