Get Your Degree Faster
If you have decided to head back to school, then you are probably very excited at the prospect of earning a degree and learning valuable new job skills. Online learning and distance learning are excellent ways to enhance your education, particularly if you need extra flexibility in order to complete your schooling. But heading back to school can be a long-term commitment, and often entails months and months of effort. However, there are a number of things that you can do to minimize the time you spend in school and earn that degree faster!
Why Get Your Degree Faster?
University and colleges degrees are valuable assets that can help you to increase your salary, find a better job, or climb your way up that corporate ladder. Unfortunately, degrees also take a lot of time to complete; in fact, most online college degrees take between three and four years to finish, while graduate degrees can take even longer. As a result, many students opt to fast track through their degrees. But is this really beneficial? Well, there are actually quite a few advantages to earning your degree faster:
- Money-Saving: Fast-track degree programs are often less expensive, because they require fewer credit courses, textbooks, and supplies.
- Intense Focus: Accelerated degrees are perfect for those students who enjoy more focused learning experiences. Unlike traditional degree programs, which tend to include classes that provide general overviews of subject areas, accelerated degree programs feature classes that focus on several specific subjects.
- Retention of Information: Many students find that by earning their degree faster, they are better able to retain the information that they learn. This makes it easier to take tests and exams, and is also useful when it comes to applying skills at the workplace.
- Facilitates Career Goals: Most distance learners or online learners have specific career goals that they would like to achieve. By completing your degree faster, you will be able to meet these career goals more quickly.
How To Get Your Degree Faster
There are a number of different ways to help make the pathway to your distance or online degree shorter. Here are some tips to take into consideration:
Join an Accelerated Program
Most colleges and universities operate on a traditional two-semester schedule. These semesters are spread out over 30 weeks or so. Accelerated university and college programs extend the length of the school year to 45 weeks, which allows you to attend classes over the summer and throughout the holidays. As a result, students can complete more credits every year, thereby earning their degree faster. In fact, students who join an accelerated online or distance learning program can often earn a Bachelor’s degree in two to three years.
Accelerated programs are now becoming increasingly popular among distance learning students, however, they do have their drawbacks. Accelerated programs are very intense, and require real dedication and hard work. They can also interfere with family and work-related responsibilities.
Look Into Non-Traditional Scheduling
Many online universities and colleges offer flexible schedules designed to help adults finish their degrees faster. But instead of extending the length of the school term in order to allow you to earn more credits, these schedules actually condense the length of each course. Rather than spending 15 or 16 weeks completing one course, you can complete a course in eight weeks by attending longer classes. Again, these classes are very popular and many offer quality learning experiences. However, they can become quite stressful and intense, and may not be right for every learner.
Plan Your Course Load Carefully
Education can be an especially enjoyable thing, particularly when you are taking courses that are unrelated to your degree. However, though these courses expand your learning horizons, they can also take up valuable time that you could be spending earning a credit required to graduate. So, if you are intent on finishing your degree early, don’t take any courses that aren’t required for your degree. Consult with an academic advisor to ensure that you are taking only those classes that are necessary.
Drop Your Minor
Though required by many traditional colleges and universities, minors are now becoming a thing of the past, particularly in online and distance learning communities. Because minors are so often unrelated to degree majors, they rarely help you when it comes to finding a job or making a career move. And you can spend up to a full year just trying to get those credits completed. So speak with your online school about dropping your minor.
Get Those Transfers!
Many of you have already completed a number of credits at other colleges and universities. Don’t let these go to waste! Talk to your online school or distance education program about having these credits transferred towards your degree requirements. Most institutions will be happy to do this as long as the course is somewhat similar to the courses your current school offers. Keep your handbooks from all of your previous courses so you can show them to a new school if need be.
Discuss Your Life Experience
Just because you haven’t completed any previous college or university courses, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have any relevant knowledge. If you have done volunteer work, worked at a job, or completed any certificates or diplomas, inform your school. Create a portfolio which contains all relevant certificates, credentials, and job achievements, and present this to your school’s academic advisory board. You could end up getting quite a few credits towards you degree.
A Word of Warning
Many online schools and distance learning programs impress students by promising them that they will "get their degree fast!" However, not all of these schools are made equal, so it is important to take a close look at your school before you sign up.
Though completing your degree quickly can be very important, it is also important not to compromise on the quality of the education that you will be receiving. Check out your distance or online school ahead of time. In particular, look for accreditation, which proves that the school meets rigorous educational standards.