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What Are Accelerated Courses?

Tara Barnett
Tara Barnett

Accelerated courses are classes that would typically last a set amount of time, such as a semester, and are condensed into a much shorter amount of time without losing the amount of knowledge gained. This type of class is highly popular among students who must fulfill requirements over the summer and other people who must quickly complete certain courses. The problem with this type of class is that it typically involves more work and more time than courses of a normal intensity, meaning that it can be harder to keep up with work or other courses when undertaking accelerated learning. Even so, many people find that accelerated courses are both convenient and manageable when scheduled appropriately.

Some of the biggest consumers of accelerated courses are students who cannot take a certain course during the school year for a variety of reasons. Required courses at all levels of education are therefore very popular subjects for accelerated study. It is usually expected that the accelerated version of the course will be no less rigorous than the normal class it is meant to replace.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

There are accelerated courses for many different subjects, but introductory courses and language courses are extremely popular. Usually, a person spends the same amount of time in the classroom as he or she would for a course of normal intensity, but the number of hours per week is much larger. In science classes, students often have long labs several times per week. As such, this type of course can be a full time endeavor.

The degree of acceleration may also be different between courses. A semester class may be condensed into several weeks, or a year long class may be taken in a single summer. One problem with condensing learning this way is that some students do not retain the information as well when the course is shorter because the time to practice is much shorter as well. In general, this effect can be overcome if the course is being used as a prerequisite for a class during the school year and the knowledge will continue to be used for a long time.

In addition to single accelerated courses, there are also entire accelerated degree programs. Many of these programs are online and may be taken from home. The benefits of taking accelerated programs include faster introduction to the workplace and, in some cases, reduced costs overall. Most of the time, the reduction in cost is due to a shorter interruption to productive life and, when one must attend the program physically, less time paying for housing. This type of program can be a great opportunity for people who otherwise might not have time to go to school because the investment pays off so much more rapidly.

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