Usually, the number of years you spend in school has a bearing on your educational attainment. Different levels of learning are typically conceptualized and categorized based on the length of time it takes to complete them. College education, for example, typically takes about four years. In most cases, the expectation is that the higher your level of education, the more years you spend completing it.
This concept, however, is no longer the case in the current generation—or at least it’s not the only way to go about earning a degree. These days, universities and colleges have altered their curricula to address students’ needs. Finally, it is possible to acquire a bachelor’s degree in less than four years!
The birth of accelerated degree programs gave learners more options to attain higher education for much less time than it usually takes. An accelerated degree program saves you one year or more, and will only take a maximum of three years to complete.
In the case of a Master’s program, completion within a year or so is possible as opposed to spending about two to three years. There are a few options for an advanced study like Ph.D. (doctorate programs), J.D. (law), an M.D. (Medical Doctor), but accelerated graduate programs are almost certainly offered by some universities. These types of programs must meet educational standards and be fully accredited; make sure you are attending established and well-known higher educational institutions!
Differences Between Standard and Accelerated Degree Programs
The primary factor that sets standard programs from accelerated higher education programs is the time it takes for completion, but the duration varies. Brick-and-mortar bachelor’s degree programs can be completed in four years, summer and other breaks included. Traditionally, the only way for you to expedite program completion is to attend summer classes in between semesters. Doing so could save you a year’s worth of attendance, but this path can be quite challenging academically.
Unlike the usual classroom-style learning programs, accelerated or compressed learning can take as little as six weeks to complete! Aside from the differences in duration of classes, you will also have the liberty of choosing your schedule, so you can mix your academic duties with your other obligations. Many accelerated learning classes are offered on a full-time or part-time basis, and can be obtained online, on-campus, or through a hybrid learning format.
Because these programs run at a fast-tracked pace, applicants are evaluated based on their performance in previous academic programs. Academic performance is, in fact, one of the requirements for taking on courses in a compressed learning style. Most would consider an applicant’s previously earned credits, professional experience, and completion of lower-level programs for acceptance.
Pros and Cons of Accelerated Learning Programs
The chief advantage of an accelerated program is that students and learners can start working and make a living right away after earning their degree. Career-wise, expedited degree completion gives you a head-start! You can begin taking on career opportunities in the same way as conventional, four-year degree holders do.
Accelerated degree options are deemed the ideal learning arrangement for students who are married, have kids, or keep full-time jobs. You want to earn the degree fast and can use the flexible learning style to achieve your academic and personal goals without compromising your current lifestyle.
It is important to note that accelerated learning programs feature a multifaceted education. Students gain the same skills and competencies as they would from standard college or graduate learning. As a result, they become fully equipped and prepared for real-world career scenarios.
If your concern is the financial aspect of it, you will be surprised to discover that some accelerated coursework options are more cost-effective and reasonably priced than the traditional degree programs. It’s worth mentioning as well that spending less time than usual on your education naturally translates to cost savings!
More and more, college institutions and graduate schools are acknowledging the fact that students could use some flexibility as they strive to reach their full academic potential without having to give up their non-academic roles. Your present family life or career doesn’t have to take a back seat just because you seek to strengthen your competencies!
For all its advantages, an accelerated degree program is also something of a double-edged sword. It has its downsides, too.
Clearly, all-encompassing comprehensive accelerated learning programs are not for everyone. The compressed rigorous coursework requires students to be more focused, dedicated, and motivated.
Because of the fast-paced and intensive style of accelerated learning, it’s not uncommon for students to be stressed out. The possibility of burnout among them is usually high. “Too much too soon” is a viable reality in accelerated degree programs.
Some courses and subjects can be a bit more challenging to learn than others, and it can get too intense for you and make it tough to keep up! Most often, subjects and courses that are on the technical side like math, science, computers, and so on are better learned in the traditional method and pace. So, unless you’re entirely focused on that academic goal, you are likely to experience de-motivation or lose interest.
Is An Accelerated Degree Program for You?
If you are up for a highly effective and intensive academic experience, an accelerated learning program may be a great match for your study habits. The critical thing to consider is that you need to choose the right accelerated degree program, finish it, and start making your career plans happen—all in lesser time than usual.
Both traditional and accelerated degree programs can take you to closer your academic and career goals, but you prefer the latter as it aligns with your plans. The question is, are you driven enough to see it through to the end? When the going gets tough, will you move forward?
Your personal learning preference and attitude toward education matter but the reality is that it all boils down to your capacity as a learner!