If you are past the ripe old age of 40, the last thing you probably want to do is spend many years in college getting a degree. If you want to use your degree to work in a chosen field after graduation, you need to find ways to reach your goal more quickly than by attending a traditional four-year school. Shortening the path to the degree you want or need is possible, and there are sensible ways to go about it.
Being prepared to jump right into learning means having basic computer skills and a willingness to do what it takes to acquire that degree. It will mean spending some money as well as substantial hours with your nose in the books. You’ll have to adjust to long hours at the computer, as well. It may mean making a number of significant sacrifices, but if you can do these things, you can get your degree in short order.
If you have credits previously earned, usually within the past ten years, you may be able to use them toward the degree you want. If you’ve served in the military, your training and service there can shave time off a degree. If you’ve had some years in a job that is related to your degree, you may be able to use your experience toward college credits. Taking CLEP exams is a good way to get your degree a little faster. If you plan to do this, be sure to check with your school to see if they accept CLEP exam credits.
What does that mean? You can use what you’ve learned through prior education and independent study, plus what you’ve done in your life toward the credits necessary for a college degree. For example, I was able to transfer all the credits I had earned for my associate’s degree to my new school; it was worth two years of a four-year program. I also earned another degree for the type of work I did over the years by taking exams, writing essays, and doing some other paperwork. Everything I’d done in my work life benefited me in my chosen course of study, so I was able to use valuable work and life experience as credit.
How to further minimize learning time? Accelerated classes are wonderful for getting through degree work quickly. They are highly condensed classes that take about five weeks instead of 15-17 weeks. Text books cover all of the essential information. These accelerated adult classes are now offered on some campuses and online. They are fast-moving, intense classes, and the pace keeps them from getting boring. They can be taken in the evening and on weekends, and are great for working adults who are interested in keeping a fast forward pace.
You can double up on some courses, but if you are receiving financial aid, some online schools insist that you pay out of pocket for the second class. This presents a problem for some adult learners, but depending on the subject and the school’s policies, it may be possible. Be careful here, because the intensity of accelerated classes means an abundance of assignments that must be completed each week. Taking more than one class at a time may be a little too ambitious. Be sure you have a lot of free time, energy, and freedom from distractions if you consider this option.
Speaking with advisors and counselors is a good way to see what your prospective school expects and requires. The best plan is to explore all your options and make use of them to create the most direct and time-saving path to your college degree.