Many people choose distance learning for its convenience and speed. Online students are able to work at their own pace and often finish faster than traditional students. But, with all the demands of daily life, many search for ways to complete their degrees in even less time. Having a degree sooner may mean making a larger salary, finding new career opportunities, and having more time to do what you want. If speed is what you’re looking for, check out these six tips to earning your degree quickly:
- 1. Plan your work. Work your plan. Most students take at least one class that they don’t need for graduation. Taking classes unrelated to your major field of study can be an excellent way to expand your horizons. But, if you’re looking for speed, avoid taking classes that aren’t required for graduation. Check (and double-check) your required classes and put together a personalized study plan. Staying in contact with your academic advisor each semester can help you stick to your plan and stay on track.
2. Insist on transfer equivalencies. Don’t let work you’ve done at other colleges go to waste; ask your current college to give you transfer equivalencies. Even after your college has decided what classes to give you credit for, check to see if any of the classes you have already completed could be counted to fill another graduation requirement. Your school will probably have an office that reviews transfer credit petitions on a weekly basis. Ask for that department’s policies on transfer credits and put together a petition. Include a thorough explanation of the class you have completed and why it should be counted as an equivalency. If you include course descriptions from your previous and current schools’ course handbooks as evidence, chances are you’ll get the credits.
3. Test, test, test. You can earn instant credits and reduce your schedule by proving your knowledge through testing. Many colleges offer students the opportunity to take the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams in various subject matters for college credit. Additionally, schools often offer their own exams in subjects such as foreign language. Testing fees can be pricy, but are almost always significantly lower than tuition for the courses they replace.
4. Skip the minor. Not all schools require students to declare a minor and, truth be told, most people won’t make too much of a mention of their minor during the life of their career. Dropping all minor classes could save you an entire semester (or more) of work. So, unless your minor is critical to your field of study or would bring you foreseeable benefits, consider eliminating these classes from your plan of action.
5. Put together a portfolio. Depending on your school, you may be able to get credit for your life experience. Some schools will give students limited credit based on the presentation of a portfolio that proves specific knowledge and skills. Possible sources of life experience include: previous jobs, volunteerism, leadership activities, community participation, accomplishments, etc.
6. Do double duty. If you have to work anyway, why not get credit for it? Many schools offer students college credits for participating in an internship or work-study experience that relates to their major – even if it’s a paid job. You may be able to get your degree faster by earning credits for what you already do. Check with your school counselor to see what opportunities are available to you.