An accelerated college is an educational institution that offers students opportunities to earn college degrees and credits at a more rapid speed than what is offered by conventional schools. This educational model may be favored by students who know which discipline they would like to study at an early age and who may show an aptitude for necessary skills. Accelerated learning also is used by non-traditional students and individuals who have obligations or financial difficulties that prevent them from attending full time programs that span years.
A common model for an accelerated college is to offer courses during summer or winter break. Most schools traditionally hold full time classes during spring and fall semesters. During winter and summer breaks, students are between semesters and often are not required to take courses. A student interested in quickly earning credits might take a class during break that can meet several times a week, a few hours each session. In this way, a student can engage in the same number of hours of education in a course in a matter of weeks that a conventional student would receive over a span of months.
This accelerated college model often is preferred by students who wish to shorten their degree programs by a semester or two. Students who find that they are only a few credits away from earning a degree also may choose this model. Instead of returning to school for an extra semester to take only one class, a student can complete a course in a few weeks.
Another accelerated college model appeals to students who are still in high school but who show aptitude for a specific discipline. For example, a student in mathematics who has demonstrated remarkable mathematics skills can take accelerated math courses in high school which can count as college credit. When a student with accelerated college credits begins a college degree program, he or she is not required to take basic mathematics classes in which most other students enroll.
Students who begin their college careers with a clear path in mind also can benefit from an accelerated college model. A freshman nursing student, for example, might show aptitude in medical sciences and already have demonstrated a strong interest in a nursing career. This student might enter an accelerated program that provides him or her with all the classes necessary to prepare for a graduate program. In most cases, this kind of accelerated program allows a student to enter directly into his or her post-graduate work without having to go through an application process.