Accelerated Degree Programs for Adult Learners

Published: 2021-06-12 06:15:04
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In our knowledge-based economy, education has become a critical link to economic security. A post secondary degree or credential is now an essential qualification for jobs that offer good wages. In fact, the fastest-growing occupations identified by the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics require some post secondary education, while jobs that require only on-the-job training are expected to decline. This leaves adults without a post     secondary education at a significant disadvantage in the marketplace. Some   interesting facts according to the U.S. Department of Labor are:
70% of future jobs will require a post secondary education. Adult learners now comprise approximately anywhere from 20-25% of the student body at nationwide post secondary campuses. Workers with degrees or professional certification generally receive much higher salaries than workers with a high school diploma only.
Adult learners generally earn higher grades than their “traditional” student counterparts.  Over the past few years there have been a significant number of programs directed to adult learning in higher education. One of the predominant innovations has been the development of accelerated degree programs, created to meet adult learner needs for convenience, access, and relevancy; these accelerated degree offerings represent “fast- tracking” credential options for part-time adult undergraduates. (Kasworm, Carol 2001).
For adult, busy professionals, the two most practical routes of learning are campus-based programs with flexible scheduling and external degree programs, such as distance learning, that require little or no classroom attendance. The adult-friendly options available under these categories are:
* Accelerated Programs: One can earn a campus-based degree in a condensed period of time by attending class one or two nights a week or on the weekend year-round.
* Weekend College: One can attend classes on Saturdays and/or Sundays a certain number of times a month and take home assignments to complete. * Credit for experience: To help put experienced adult students on the fast track, some bachelor degree programs allow students to earn credit for on-the-job and other learning experiences that they’ve had since high school. Credit can often be earned for volunteer service, community service, or travel.
* External Degree/Nontraditional Program: If one needs even more flexibility in their schedule, accredited nontraditional or external degree programs that require little or no class attendance could be the option. Students receive workbooks, textbooks, videos, and television programs, and/or communicate through the mail or electronically.
The newest twist is learning via the Internet. The choice of degree programs expands, since location is not an issue, and one can log on at his   convenience.
Research in this area identifies four major barriers to education for working adults: Lack of time, family responsibilities, scheduling and location of courses, and the cost of education. Also societal transformational forces, including increased competition, changing needs and expectations of society, and the drive for performance and accountability, add even further pressure to the already strenuous adult work force.
Accelerated Degree Program
Out of all available options, Accelerated degree programs have become a major innovation in serving adult undergraduate learners. Created to meet adult learner needs for convenience, access, and relevancy, these accelerated degree offerings typically represent professional areas of applied study, specialized curricular formats, cohort learning models, and compressed time schedule of one course offering during a 4-6 week period
What is “Accelerated Learning”? The Accelerated Degree Program is a non-traditional program serving adults age 25 and older who have already completed certain formal education. In an ERIC Digest review of accelerated learning (AL) (Imel, 2002) there are two distinct definitions of accelerated learning used in conjunction with adult education.
The first is associated with higher education, and the need for adults to participate in non-traditional models to compensate for the demands of family, work and life that do not impact the more traditional college student. The second form is a type of learning, regularly promoted in the world of corporate training. This paper mainly concerns with the first form.
The following are six factors which, together, seem to have pushed the need for lifelong learning into the limelight recently:
Continuing shift to an information society Competing influences of specialization Increasing internationalization Explosion of knowledge and technology Microeconomic reform and the changing workplace Emergence of new occupations and careers Advantages of Accelerated degree programs
The benefits of Accelerated degree programs are undeniable. Students can take classes at their convenience, allowing them to keep up with their regular jobs or family responsibilities. They can pursue degrees in a variety of fields, even if they live far from a traditional brick-and-mortar campus. There are even online resources such as cyber-libraries that provide online students with all the tools they need to succeed. And advances in technology have made it easy for students to take part in interactive, multimedia lessons and live chats that simulate the classroom experience.

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