Our national economy has taken a beating in the past half decade leaving many adults re-evaluating their job skills and career path. Although the economy is recovering, many people are still concerned about stagnant salaries and a lack of well paying jobs and many adults are tackling a career change to take advantage of better opportunities. Fast track programs, which allow working adults to quickly acquire new skills, are often the key to quick career advancements and lay the groundwork for a better future.
Almost 40% of postsecondary students are adult learners. Of all adult learners, 54% between the ages of 25 and 29, and 34% over the age of 39 are full-time students. Therefore, a significant number are also completing their education taking part-time courses allowed in flexible online degree programs.
As demand rises, more and more institutions are creating programs that accommodate the lifestyle requirements of adult students.
Adult degree programs, with the increased flexibility and accelerated pace, allow adult learners to study during times convenient for them and finish their online degree fast. Here are a few learning models specifically developed for adult students.
Accelerated programs usually allow you to complete a degree faster, but they have more stringent application prerequisites. For instance, many undergraduate accelerated programs require you to have 60 completed college credits or an associate’s degree. An accelerated graduate degree program will almost always require a bachelor’s degree for enrollment. The strict entry requirements allow a postsecondary institution to award you credit for previous studies allowing you to graduate with your new degree faster. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons of accelerated programs before enrolling.
Another way to earn an online degree faster is through accelerated courses within your degree program. You’re still required to complete the traditional number of credits, but you complete them in a shorter period of time. Accelerated courses take the content covered in a 15-week 3 or 4-credit course and condense it into a shorter timeframe, sometimes letting you complete the workload of two semesters in the 15-week block. Accelerated courses are generally between five and eight weeks long depending on the material density of each subject.
Condensed courses are similar to accelerated courses, but they allow adult students who need more flexibility to complete one condensed course at a time. This option allows for more personal responsibilities, but since the course is condensed you can still complete an average number of classes per semester. A condensed course is an excellent option if you find it hard to balance school, home, and work responsibilities or if you feel you can learn better when you can concentrate your energy on one subject.
Self-paced or an individualized programs offer the greatest amount of flexibility, and allow you to move through your program at your own pace, speeding up or slowing down as you deem necessary. For instance, an accountant may be extremely busy in the spring tax season and may need to greatly slow his or her studies. After this busy period, the accountant can then speed up his pace of studies again.
Many university programs require practical experience to earn a degree and for adult students this may be a difficult condition to fulfill because they already have a job from which it might not be possible to take a leave. Certain programs, however, take into account your current and prior work experience to exempt you from these types of requirements. Some even grant credits for life or work experience.
Graduate programs are particularly likely to offer this option as many require real-life work experience. For instance, many accelerated MBA programs will ask you to have at least two years’ relevant work experience.
While it’s always important to choose a school that holds accreditation that meets your needs and to make sure your program is reputable, adult students must also consider other factors like cost, flexibility, and course pacing. The following online schools were handpicked by GetEducated editors and offer some of the most popular and innovative adult degree programs.
Capella’s FlexPath offers some of the most flexible online degree programs available, making it an ideal choice for busy adults looking for fast-track programs. FlexPath does not have weekly deadlines or pre-scheduled classes. Instead, students follow their own rhythm within 12-week blocks, the period of time for a complete course. There are no weekly deadlines within these 12 weeks so you can speed up your learning or slow it down based on your personal circumstances. The 12-week deadline, though, is the final bell and you must have your work done by then.
To ensure you’ve learned the required material based, virtual final assessments are given for each course. The degree you earn at the end of this path will be the same degree earned by completing a traditional program at Capella University. FlexPath offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology, information technology and business.