Should You Accelerate Your Online Degree Program? 5 Things to Consider
You’re scrolling through a college’s website and plotting your educational future when a headline jumps out at you: “Want a quicker way to earn your degree?” Intrigued, you click and discover that many options to accelerate pace do indeed exist.
Might selecting a faster-paced degree program be in your best interests? Like all decisions related to higher education, examine your individual situation before making a commitment. Here are five issues to ponder:
How eager are you to have the degree you desire in hand? Faster completion may entail taking more courses at a time, enrolling in concentrated classes where material gets covered at a quicker rate, skipping traditional school-year breaks such as summers off, and/or preparing on your own to take competency exams in subjects with which you have a background in order to “test out” of certain requirements.
A career-switcher, someone needing a degree in order to get a promotion, or a genuine eager beaver may possess the get-up-and-go crucial to successful acceleration. Other students may prefer sticking with a calmer, more traditional pace.
What else is going on in your life? If you’re already juggling too many balls, think twice before adding a fast-paced academic program to the mix. The workload taken on needs to jive with other obligations, such as your job and family. A regular program could prove a saner choice.
Do you have the time to devote to such an endeavor? Taking an extra course each semester could sound good in theory but not prove realistic. Examine your daily schedule for feasibility.
On the flipside, people can have certain points in their lives that favor enrolling in ambitious programs. For instance, a manager laid off during financial turmoil at his company due to the COVID-19 pandemic may see full-throttle pursuit of a graduate degree right now as a smart career move. A program such as Purdue University Global’s ExcelTrack in which enrollees can take as many classes as they want each term for one flat price might make sense.
Do you meet the enrollment requirements? Some fast-track programs only accept students with certain life experiences or previous educational attainment. Read carefully to determine whether or not your history fits the bill.
For instance, the Accelerated BSN program at Grand Canyon University builds on a student’s non-nursing education to make the accelerated transition into nursing possible. Thus, “Eligible students must have 60 or more transferable college credits to enter the program (Tucson location) or hold an existing bachelor’s degree (Sun City location).”
How does the fast-track program align with your finances? Some programs can save you money from the get-go. Other programs may cost more upfront but even-out or cost less over the long-haul of your educational plan. Still others may simply cost more than their traditional counterparts but be worth it by speeding up your graduation date and subsequent entry into a higher-paying job market.
For help evaluating monetary situations as well as any other questions regarding accelerated programs, turn to your institution’s counselors. They can assist with seeing the short-term and long-term picture, provide guidance about possible financial aid, and act as a valuable supporter of your educational goals.
By Beth Hering