When adults talk about getting a college degree, they often mention that their interest is in the shortest path to a degree. This makes for the most economical way to earn a degree. Additionally, time is usually considered the enemy of getting a degree by adults who are returning to school. The best degree for many adults is the one they can reach. By shortening the time to earn the degree, it can put a college degree into the hands of more adults.
The first step to a faster degree for adults starts with turning experience into college hours. Check around the area to find colleges that will accept work experience in place of classroom learning. This type of credit usually will cost you the same amount as earning it the regular way.
By putting together a portfolio that documents that you have already gained the same knowledge on the job, the college will look for enough to prove to them that you have earned the credit. Sometimes the school may require that a book or two be read in addition to the documentation. You will need coworkers and supervisors to assist in providing assessments of your work experience and performance. The limits on this type of college credit usually ranges from 15 to 30 hours. Some schools will go a little higher.
Keeping good track of continuing education credits (CEU’s) can help with this type of life experience credit. Seminars and training courses will also make a difference. The key is to have the documentation regarding the materials covered and the completion certificate.
The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) also are a good pathway to shorten the time needed for a degree. Unlike the life experience credit, CLEP credit is much cheaper as well as faster. The cost of these credits is the price of the test that is currently around $65.00 plus the purchase of a book to use for review.
Since almost 3,000 colleges and university recognize the value of this testing program, nearly any school that you are planning to attend will accept the hours earned this way. The maximum CLEP hours allowed by most schools is about 30. This does not mean that you can get 60 hours of credit between the two methods. Colleges usually limit total hours earned through non-traditional work to about 45.
By locating a school that offers shorter semesters with more concentrated class time, more hours can be earned in a year. Most parts of the country have a choice of such programs. These will offer eight week semesters with the possibility of earning up to 9 hours per session. This means that as many as 54 hours can be earned in one year. This can lead to a degree in a little over two years.
These programs are usually designed for converting an associates degree to a bachelors degree or a bachelors to a masters. The result is that the program is expected to be completed in about one year. There is no significant savings in this type of program unless you count the cost of transportation.
By coupling the above degree programs with online course work, even faster degrees can be earned. The extra hours will need to be transferred to the primary school. Care needs to be exercised to make sure that the primary school will accept hours from the online course work. You must also keep in mind that most schools require that at least 30 of the hours earned come from their school.
With just a little ingenuity and work, one or two years can easily be shaved from the time needed to complete the next level of your degree. Combining different techniques can keep the time short while still giving you a quality degree. Avoiding diploma mills is important. You might be able to get a degree of a matchbook cover, but it will not often lead to a better job or increased earnings potential.