Education Models and Accelerated Degree Programs

Introduction

An accelerated degree program is just a faster way of completing a degree program. By definition, accelerated learning programs are structured for students to take less time than conventional programs to attain university credits, certificates, or degrees (IAL, 2007). Sometimes the degree can be completed online. For example, the Associate of Science in Business Management degree at Florida Community College at Jacksonville takes about 18 months to complete and students who begin the program with some college credit or who have applicable work experience or military experience may finish the program earlier (FCCJ, 2008).

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Students move through the program as a group and generally take two classes each session. Each of the courses for the degree is available online, so classes do not require time spent on campus. Using an accelerated eight-week semester format, this program allows a student to complete the degree much more quickly than other programs. However, it is highly debatable whether such accelerated programs are beneficial or corrosive in the long run. Some people argue that these programs are not as effective as the traditional ones and that they cost more. Others argue that these programs are a step in the right direction as it allows workers and veterans of war to get qualified.

Thesis: Accelerated degree programs are beneficial to many people despite a few drawbacks.

Aspects of accelerated diploma programs

Many students do not go to graduate school because of a lack of time due to family obligations, work, and other factors. A major aspect of accelerated diploma programs is that one can earn an M.A., M.S., or M.B.A. degree in half the time that would generally be needed. It saves valuable time – a year of tuition and a year of a person’s life. Accelerated programs encourage anyone with an interest in learning to pursue higher education.

Accelerated degree programs are of great use to working people and veterans. In particular, these programs contribute towards solving the issue of the nursing shortage. Colleges and universities are offering working people the option of acquiring a degree without leaving their work through accelerated degree programs. While some accelerated degree programs offer only bachelor’s degrees or only master’s degrees, but many do offer both.

Regardless of whatever one’s career path is, a graduate degree opens new doors and enhances professional options. Accelerated programs provide an innovative educational opportunity to non-nurse college graduates as well. Offered at both the baccalaureate and graduate levels, students can build upon their previous undergraduate experience and enter the world of nursing within a short period (DeBasio, 2005). Students, too, are currently showing great interest in shortening the time for a degree. Over a third of high school seniors who graduated in 2001-02 took at least one accelerated course during high school (OPPAGA, 2006).

Estimates are that 25 percent or more of all adult students will be enrolled in accelerated programs within the next ten years (Wlodkowski, 2003). Currently, 13 percent of adult students studying for degrees are enrolled in programs that offer degrees in less than the traditional length of time (Aslanian, 2001).

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According to the Center for Accelerated Learning, accelerated degree programs are based upon scientific research on the brain and different learning styles (Gradschools.com, 2008). It has been found that students in accelerated courses or programs enjoy a more hands-on learning experience than in traditional courses. The learning is geared more towards multitasking, creation, and retention, unlike the simple memorization techniques followed in traditional teaching models (Gradschools.com, 2008).

The learning environment in an accelerated degree program is very relaxing though the course content is quite high. A person is fully involved in this learning environment through active engagement and participation (IAL, 2004). With instructional configurations such as video streaming, listservs, chatrooms, Internet searches, e-mail, and bulletin boards, the learning is based on activities and not as much on materials or presentations and lectures (IAL, 2004).

Considering the four barometers of quality- accreditation, learning, student attitudes, and alumni attitudes – research shows that adults in accelerated programs do learn satisfactorily (Wlodkowski, 2003). The high level of interaction decreases the competition among students. Students in accelerated learning environments engage in a high level of collaboration. Moreover, in the case of accelerated learning education is driven by the learner and his or her individual needs.

Moreover, these programs are also viable economically. According to a New York Times article by William H. Honan these programs result in thousands of dollars due to cutting down of one academic year (Honan, 1993). In addition, if a three-year graduate gets a job immediately after graduation, he will be earning an extra year of wages. Albertus Magnus College, a small, private liberal arts school in New Haven, inaugurated in 1993, a two-and-two-thirds-year degree program to stop financially pressed students from transferring to less expensive state-supported institutions. Robert J. Buccino, a vice president of the college, said 75 percent of all returning students and 80 percent of all entering freshmen were participating in the accelerated program. He said it could reduce the cost of their degrees by 18 percent, to $55,000 from $66,600 over four years (Honan, 1993).

Accelerated degree programs are viewed in both California and New York, as a way to cope with the prospect of rising enrollment and declining state financing. Administrators of small liberal arts colleges look upon accelerated degree programs as a way to prevent the loss of students to less expensive public institutions.

Conclusion

The world today is largely driven by information and knowledge. In such a world, accredited degree programs offer a new path. By opening doors to sections of people unable to attend colleges, these programs help them to acquire knowledge, degrees, and greater career prospects. Moreover, these programs have been found to have a scientifically better learning environment than traditional programs. Finally, these programs are beneficial from the economic point of view as well. This leads one to deduce that accredited degree programs are truly innovative evolutionary education models that are here to stay.

References

Aslanian, C. B. (2001). Adult Students Today. College Board. New York.

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DeBasio, O. Nancy (2005). Accelerated Nursing Programs. Americal Association of Colleges of Nursing. Web.

FCCJ (Florida Community College) (2008). Online Accelerated Business Degree. Web.

Gradschools.com (2008). No Time for Graduate School? Take an Accelerated Program. Web.

Honan, H. William (1993). Completing College in Only 3 Years? Idea Is Gaining Support Nationwide. The New York Times.

IAL (International Alliance for Learning) (2004). What is Accelerated Learning? Web.

OPPAGA (Office of Progam Policy Analysis and Government Accountability) (2006). Most Acceleration Students Perform Well, But Outcomes Vary by Program Type. Report No. 06-25.

Wlodkowski, J. Raymond (2003). Accelerated Learning in Colleges and Universities. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. No. 97.

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