Josh Kaufman’s articles on Hacking Higher Education are a good place to begin your quest for a college degree. No, he does not mean hacking into a college computer and giving yourself a forged credential; he means using legitimate means to turn your work experience, personal reading, and non-accredited coursework into college credits.
One popular route to a degree is the CLEP test. For example, you can get 6 credits in English Literature by taking two semester-long college courses (and paying the tuition) or by paying about $80 to take a CLEP test validating the fact that you were reading the Canterbury Tales in junior high and Tolkein in grade school. Excelsior College offers a means of consolidating all your CLEP exams and taking whatever online courses you need to finish an accredited Associates or Bachelors degree. They are friendly towards students who do not fit the four-year-college mold. Excelsior also offers exams in many Excelsior College classes, accepts UExcel and DANTES exams, and offers college credit for working students who have passed the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam, achieved industry credentials in computer networking, studied at the Defense Language Institute, and much more.
Before writing a fat tuition check, putting your career on hold, or taking out a huge student loan, spend an hour exploring the Excelsior website and reading Kaufman’s articles. You may be closer to a college degree than you think!