Fast track degrees can pay off for students and institutions, but there's a caveat
- With greater demand surrounding accelerated degree options and the ability to help students cut the cost of tuition, colleges like American University, Drexel University and Georgia State University, among others, are investing in quality fast-track programs that allow students to officially graduate earlier with the help of advisors and school support, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Purdue University's "Degree in 3" option has been growing in popularity, as the institution has begun advertising the program more heavily, and out-of-state students are realizing they can save around $20,000 on tuition — which can help the institution stand out in a competitive college choice marketplace, particularly for students who want to enter the workforce more quickly.
- Officials are aware, however, that the institution must confront a reality that the college experience is more than just classes and traditional students may not be attracted to the option, with Josh Boyd, the communications school director, saying to the Chronicle that students have expressed concerns, "it might make it more difficult to study abroad, to do internships, to be a part of student organizations."
As the student body becomes much older and non-traditional enrollees return to enhance their education, fast-track degree options may be more appealing and help institutions stand out. But at the same time a school offers the program, it must balance offering a quality education while also providing students with the types of experiences that make them more well-rounded and prepared employees — such as hands-on learning, internships, study abroad opportunities, community engagement and the ability to test out the workforce environment.
This is especially important as students taking intensive courses may need opportunities to step back and enjoy these college experiences in order to stay on track. Not only that, participating in things like study abroad are also key to helping students stand out when they go to the workforce, as a 2017 study from Institute of International Education shows that in a survey of 4,500 alumni from U.S. higher education institutions who studied abroad between 1999 and 2017, 68% of those who studied abroad for an extended period of time said the experience contributed to a job offer or promotion.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education Students Want Faster Degrees. Colleges Are Responding.
Follow Shalina Chatlani on Twitter