Are Accelerated Colleges for You? The Growing Trend of Accelerated Education
The lengthy four- to five-year process of attending class every semester on campus to complete a bachelor’s degree is no longer every college student’s dream. The allure of accelerated colleges is at a high because of the touted advantages and appeals of shortening the process to finish a bachelors, associates, or even graduate degree. But is an accelerated education right for you? Weighing the plentiful advantages as well as the potential demands on you as a student will help you determine if applying to accelerated colleges is the right way to go.
Advantages of Accelerated Education
The best advantage of accelerated programs and degrees is that you finish your degree faster than you would in a traditional program. This is hands-down one of the primary reasons students choose accelerated education. Sitting in a classroom is simply not for everyone. If you prefer a faster-paced learning environment, you would definitely benefit from time-saving accelerated programs.
The other major reason students choose accelerated programs is because they usually save money by doing so. By shaving off a year (or even more) of completion time, you will save on transportation costs (since many students complete accelerated degrees online), semester fees, room and board, and other costly activities that add up over the course of your college experience. For most people, saving money is a very good thing. Since saving money and accelerated programs often go hand in hand, it’s easy to see why students favor them over more traditional and longer programs.
Accelerated Colleges Grow in Numbers
In recent years, the U.S. News reported the rise of accelerated colleges offering students three-year programs from start to finish. Both students and colleges are starting to truly understand the benefits of accelerated education and the trend is reflecting this. The report indicated the huge financial savings that accelerated programs can offer students which makes a program that much more attractive. Because of the influx of college students over the past decades, there is a vast array of different types of learners and student backgrounds. Colleges and universities are responding to this diversity by offering innovative new degree programs, among them accelerated courses and full degree programs that can be completed online or in the classroom.
The most popular academic programs include business, information technology, criminal justice, psychology, liberal arts, and communications, among others.
Career Goals and Aspirations
With a tight economy, it’s more important than ever for college grads to get on the job market as quickly as possible. The process of finding and securing a new job can take months, so the faster you finish your degree, the more time you’ll have to devote to finding a job. In fact, many accelerated colleges are now targeting ambitious and dedicated future college students for their accelerated programs and offering a variety of resources to help you finish your degree in less time. These types of students have what it takes to complete a rigorous accelerated program.
If you have a firm idea of what field you plan to work in or even what specific job you desire, accelerated programs will probably suit those dreams. On the other hand, if you’d rather try out a few different types of courses and dabble in a variety of fields before landing on a specific major, an accelerated program may feel too rushed for you and you may not benefit from its advantages in the end.
Eyes on Graduate School
Many students elect to choose accelerated colleges because they already know they plan to pursue a graduate degree. An accelerated bachelor’s degree can put them in reach of a graduate degree. Many accelerated bachelor’s degree programs also allow students to pursue part of or all of a master’s degree at the same time as they pursue their bachelor’s degree, graduating with both degrees at once. If this type of program isn’t available in your field, accelerated graduate degrees also exist and you can apply to accelerated graduate programs while you’re still pursuing your bachelor’s degree.
The Demands of Accelerated Programs
Because you’re drastically quickening your pace to completion, accelerated programs can be quite demanding. It’s important to be prepared to make sacrifices over the course of your degree. You may encounter shorter break periods than a traditional program, less time in between major assessments, and a demanding course schedule. If you keep your eye on the potential advantages of choosing an accelerated program and are dedicated to your studies, these demands will pale in comparison to the ease and freedom you’ll feel with your degree in hand once you finish.