Adult online learners don’t really care too much about the college experience. They are typically past the point of wanting to experience the parties, friends, football games, and all of that noise. They are all business and want to get done as soon as possible and move on with their careers.
Some schools are starting to take notice and are now offering three year bachelor’s degree tracks in some very popular majors such as business administration, computer science, and psychology.
How Three Year Degrees Work
Graduates still earn the same bachelor’s degree as students who choose the four year track. The graduation requirements are still the same including number of courses, so the three year degree is much more rigorous because of the increased class load. Students usually make up for the year they skip by taking additional classes in the summer, and higher credit loads during the other terms.
Planning is essential to completing the three year degree. Students must know what they want to major in from day one, and must work closely with their academic advisors. There is no time to experiment with classes. One wrong class taken could mean a a major setback.
Benefits of Three Year Degrees
Obviously you get done one year sooner, which means your career starts that much earlier. This is the main benefit for online learners. Their main goal is to start earning a solid paycheck. Let’s say they earn an entry level salary of $45,000 after completing their three year business degree. That’s a lot of extra money earned that their four-year degree peers will miss out on. You also will probably save a lot of money by skipping out on that fourth year of college.
Finishing four year’s worth of courses in three years is an impressive feat that you can use to your advantage when interviewing for positions. Many students take up to five or six years to complete their bachelor’s degree. If you had to choose between a candidate who finished in three years or a candidate who completed in four, with all other things being equal, who do you think is going to get the job?
Drawbacks of Three Year Degrees
Some critics argue that the focus is too much on finishing quickly rather than learning. Also, some schools tack on additional fees if students take an overload of credits. While the fees may add up, the additional salary earned is worth it. Let’s say you pay an additional $1,500 in fees to get done in three years, but land a job for $40,000. Do the math and you are $38,500 ahead. Sounds like a good investment.
Only time will tell if three year degree students learn less than their four year colleagues. Proponents say that getting done in three years actually causes students to focus more, increasing the depth of learning.