Talk about the fast track to success.
A new accelerated-learning program at Johnson County Community College in Kansas gives nontraditional students an opportunity to complete college courses in half the time.
How it works: Students attend one class from 4 p.m. to 6:50 p.m., followed by a second class that runs from 7 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. The longer periods allow instructors to pack more learning into a single class, so students are able to earn college credit for up to two courses in just eight weeks. Enrolling in two more classes for the second half of the semester allows part-time students to complete four classes, for a total of 12 credits, in a single 16-week term.
The benefit: Administrators say the setup, which requires students to spend less than eight hours on campus per week, presents a great option for busy, nontraditional students, many of whom have work and other commitments that make commuting to campus four and sometimes five days a week a tough sell.
“What makes this schedule unique is that it serves those who have full-time jobs or family situations that keep them out of daytime classes, or they have trouble managing extended nighttime and weekend college classes,” explains Jim Lane, JCCC’s dean of arts, humanities and social sciences.
A student who takes full advantage of the program (four semesters and two summer sessions) can earn up to 56 hours of transferable credit that is honored by participating four-year state institutions, essentially completing all general education requirements before earning a degree from JCCC or making the decision to transfer.
The challenge: For students who need to earn credits and advance their educations more quickly, the JCCC model is an intriguing option. But administrators say students should be ready to do the work. Packing two courses into eight weeks means assignments — and due dates — will come fast and furious.
JCCC has attempted to account for these challenges by offering individualized academic services and advice designed to keep students on track.
But the college can only do so much. If students are struggling, they have to recognize that and know when to ask for help, says Lane.
Has your college considered adding accelerated-learning and transfer programs to help nontraditional students?