Traditionally, college has been a four-year course for earning a bachelor’s degree. This was considered to be the gold standard for many individuals upon graduating from high school. However, many changes in the world today have taken the luster from the four-year course option and have shown how beneficial other types of degree programs can be. At the forefront of higher educational change is the accelerated degree program, a type of college-level program that gets individuals through their degrees quickly and out into the workforce in far less time than usual.
What Is an Accelerated Degree Program?
Of course, it is obvious that a bachelor’s degree is important for most adults to have. Not only is it the first step to a higher degree, such as a master’s or a doctorate, but also it has been shown to keep people healthier, happier and more financially secure throughout their lives. Statistics show that people with bachelor’s degrees earn $300 more each week than do those with only associate’s degrees and over $400 more each week than do those with only high school diplomas.
The good news is that individuals no longer have to put in four years of work to earn this degree. An accelerated degree program cuts down higher education time by at least one year, letting students earn a bachelor’s degree in a maximum of three years. Some accelerated programs work even faster than this. For example, master’s degrees may take only a year to a year and a half to accomplish rather than the usual two to three years.
Accelerated degree programs retain many of the same benefits of which traditional programs boast. For example, they are usually still accredited depending on the college and typically still cover the same courses with the same number of tests. However, everything is sped up. Classes cover more material in shorter lengths of time, and homework assignments, quizzes and tests are much closer together. Basically, this is an immersive, intensive experience designed to get people successfully through their coursework and on to graduation.
What Are the Types of Accelerated Degree Programs?
When choosing an accelerated program, students will be able to pick from a variety of types depending on the educational institution that they attend. For example, they may choose a single-degree program that focuses on one course at a time. Each course comes with a short break afterwards before the next course begins.
The dual-degree program lets individuals work on their bachelors’ and their masters’ degrees simultaneously. As they earn credits towards a bachelor’s degree, the same credits can sometimes count toward the master’s degree at the same time.
Other options that are offered are the on-campus program versus the online accelerated degree program. While on-campus programs are beneficial for those who like to connect with other students, the online option is good for people who must still hold down jobs or who have family obligations during usual daytime school hours.
Different institutions also offer different class lengths. For example, some offer five-week sessions while others offer eight-week sessions. The length of each session helps to determine how quickly the degree will be obtained.
What Are the Benefits of Choosing an Accelerated Degree Program?
Accelerated degree programs offer numerous benefits for people of all walks of life. Most importantly, these programs save people precious time, getting them through school and into the workforce where they can earn money as quickly as possible. Those who are wondering why they should pursue these programs should also consider these other important benefits.
- Faster career changes
- Faster career advancement
- Cost savings
- Better class scheduling choices
- Less downtime during summers and school breaks
How Can One Get Started in an Accelerated Degree Program?
These days, many colleges offer accelerated degree options for bachelor’s, bachelor’s to master’s and even dual-enrollment options. In fact, numerous schools have opened up these options since the economic downturn of 2008 as schools saw the increased need for students to save money and find jobs quickly.
Getting started with this program is similar to getting started with any traditional college program. Students should apply to several institutions with accelerated programs to determine which option is best for them. They should also consider online options, which are increasingly advantageous. In addition, they should apply for student aid as needed, keeping in mind that many schools offer scholarship programs. Moreover, the U.S. government offers financial aid, including low-interest loans, grants and work-study programs, to students living below certain economic qualifications.
The United States has been working on several initiatives within the last decade to make college more affordable for all. One part of this is the Pell for Accelerated Completion program. This fund provides grants for individuals in accelerated programs. To get started with this grant, one must first apply for FAFSA to determine eligibility. The grants are then paid directly to the school.
What Are Some Tips for Succeeding in an Accelerated Degree Program?
Because accelerated degree programs are so fast and intensive, they require a certain amount of dedication and perseverance for student success. First, students will want to see if they can transfer credits from other colleges they have attended or from placement examinations or CLEP examinations they have taken. This will save them even more time, cutting down programs to two years or less.
Second, students will need to be self-motivated to get through the classes with such heavy workloads. Students should be able to use their time widely, create healthy schedules that combine their social and work pursuits along with their school goals and be willing to change their class workloads if things are not working out well.
Third, these programs are best started when other areas of life are slower. For example, planning for a wedding, getting ready for a baby or starting a new job are not the best times to start with this heavy workload.
Fourth, students will benefit best from professors who are willing to work one-on-one with them. This should be possible even with online classes. To find out which professors are best, students should ask their classmates for recommendations and even reach out to professors before classes start. Once the class is in full swing, it is still important to reach out to professors often to get an idea of what they are looking for in-class assignments and to get extra help.
Finally, students need to remember to care for themselves during this time. Downtime is important during these months, and individuals should be sure to carve some time out of each week for relaxation, hanging out with friends and caring for personal health and wellness needs.
While an accelerated degree program may not be for everyone, it does offer people with limited budgets and plenty of dedication to their schooling the opportunity to make quick progress and to get their degrees quickly. Individuals embarking in these programs should be aware that much will be asked of them as far as homework and other assignments go. However, those who press through can typically become vital parts of the workforce in far less time than they may have thought possible.