Written by: Joe Emerson // Nov 5, 2019
Last updated: Nov 13, 2019
If you’re considering the benefits of accelerated college programs, it’s a good bet you’re familiar with success, know what you want from academia, have been working to get it, and want to get it done as soon as possible, to the best possible effect.
What Are Accelerated College Programs?
The USF Provost’s Scholars Program is a good one to explore if you want to know the general rules of the road in the academic fast lane and where it can lead. To become a USF Provost’s Scholar, you must have:
- At least 18 credits from degree-applicable courses (International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, dual enrollment)
- A weighted high school GPA of 3.8 or higher, per USF’s calculation
- An SAT score of at least 1280 or an ACT score of 27 or higher
Meet those standards and PSP will put you on track to graduate with a bachelor’s degree within three years. Program perks include study abroad options, individualized advising, priority registration, and housing choices that include life in the Provost’s Scholars Program Living Learning Community.
Things You Can Expect from an Accelerated College Program
Along with admission requirements that are more rigorous than for traditional bachelor’s degree programs, accelerated programs may:
- Condense courses into longer but fewer sessions, with the potential to, for example, turn a 16-week semester into an eight-week term.
- Use a quarter or term format, which is better suited to accelerated courses’ time frame than semesters
- Offer courses year-round
- Offer online programs that allow students to set their own pace
- Feature more flexible schedules
- Allow you to accrue credits by testing out of classes, based on learning and experience
- Require non-classroom activities ranging from internships to volunteer work to leadership experiences (See USF’s Foundational Experiences curriculum and what it entails.)
Students in accelerated programs can earn a bachelor’s degree in 12 to 18 months. A master’s can be had in as little as a year.
Upsides of Accelerated Degree Programs
Accelerated college programs are for people with their eyes on a prize and the drive to make it theirs as soon as possible. Accelerating means they’ll:
- Probably be able to choose graduate-level coursework toward the end of the bachelor’s program
- Save money on tuition and other college expenses
- Be able to graduate and focus on personal responsibilities sooner
- Position themselves to launch a career and start making money sooner
- Have the option of using the time shaved off the college experience to travel or otherwise experience life before going to work
- Be privy to more class scheduling choices
- Have less downtime
Downsides of Accelerated Degree Programs
Having less downtime is acceptable for some; for many, having less time for the social side of the college experience is untenable. There are a few other things about the academic fast track that some don’t savor:
- A very heavy academic load might preclude having a job to underwrite expenses.
- There’s a need to map a career path early.
- Subjects such as math and computer skills can be formidable in accelerated formats.
- Student loans come due earlier, which could make it harder for those who want to take a breather before starting work.
- There’s not much leeway for academic exploration, including electives.
- For those hoping to ease into adult responsibilities, the academic fast lane won’t be much fun.
Want additional details on the USF Provost’s Scholars Program?