Published on 2015/05/20

A Student’s Guide: Three Ways to Accelerate Your Path to a Bachelor’s Degree

The EvoLLLution | A Student’s Guide: Three Ways to Accelerate Your Path to a Bachelor’s Degree
While accelerated degree options exist and are widely understood by those working in higher ed, more often than not prospective students have no idea these possibilities exist.

Want to earn your bachelor’s degree in less time? There are a number of shortcuts you might be overlooking that could trim down your time on campus and the costly tuition bill that often comes with pursuing higher education. To help you reach your goals more quickly, let’s dig into three of the best methods for accelerating your path to graduation. 

1. Get College Credit for your Work and Life Experience

If you’re just getting back into the swing of things on the college front, your prior life experiences and professional background are assets well worth leveraging. Essentially, plenty of accredited universities offer some form of course deferment or waivers based on your history and expertise. In many ways, this process is a lot like tacking on a few extra credits to your transcript before you even walk in the doors of whichever college you decide upon.

While pursuing my undergraduate studies in business administration, I was able to earn 15 college credits (the equivalent of 5 classes) using this method. Not only was I able shave off an entire semester of college, but I also saved $3,750 in tuition costs!

From a professional perspective, expressing a specialized level of knowledge based upon your work history gets the ball rolling. From written essays, reports, certificates, or other business documents that prove you’ve gone above and beyond textbook theory, to original works of art and other creative content, connecting with a counselor and finding a way to apply your portfolio toward applicable credits can save you a load of time and money—something that any adult chasing a degree can appreciate.

Speaking of your professional life, checking in with your current employer can open up some unique opportunities to leverage your work experience into less time in the classroom. As continuing education and professional development continue to take center stage within workforces around the globe, the utilization of corporate training programs has seen a big jump in acceptance. If the people in charge want to pay for you to seek a higher education while you’re on the clock, why not take them up on this offer to get on the degree fast track?

2. Take Accelerated Online Classes

For those of you looking for a more digital experience, consider earning college credits through online study. It’s hard to beat the appeal of the eight-week online college courses offered by a number of universities—especially if finishing ahead of schedule is high on your list of scholarly priorities.

Aside from the shorter duration for individual classes, the half-length semesters provide you with the opportunity to double down on your courses, thereby completing twice as many selections as students attending traditional universities and colleges. The best part? Because semesters are divided into different sessions, you don’t have to kill yourself trying to cram too many standard classes into your already busy schedule in order to keep up with your desired pace.

3. Test out of Classes with CLEP and DSST Exams

Finally, consider putting pen to paper and testing your way through any applicable courses. With a variety of course equivalency tests available to prospective students like you, this method of degree acceleration is potentially the best-kept secret in the world of academia.

From the traditional CLEP offerings to the lesser-utilized but similarly effective DSST, Excelsior/UExcel, and TECEP selections, there’s no reason you should be stuck in entry and intermediary level courses. Aside from saving you time, the fee to take these tests up front often comes out to a far lower expense than paying for a full-fledged class, so your bank account will also be happy with this option.

During my first two years of college, I was able to combine CLEP and DSST exams to earn 18 college credits, the equivalent of 6 classes. Most exams run 90 minutes in length and cost around $80. The college credit awarded varies depending on the exam, but can range from 3 to 12 college credits.


At the end of the day, there’s no getting around the fact that embarking on the collegiate journey takes a lot of effort, motivation, and hard work. However, if you’re able to put these three powerful tips to good use, there’s no reason you can’t remove a serious amount of the time requirement from the higher education equation.

Regardless of whether you’re stepping foot on campus for the first time, or going back to get your degree after some time away pursuing some of life’s other callings, taking this approach is always a good call.

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