Graduate in a Timely Manner

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Posted on January 1st, 2011

Generally people want to pursue their degrees online because they like the luxury of being able to complete their programs at their own pace. However, there are others who join an online program in the hopes of graduating faster. Just to clear any confusion, online programs typically take the exact same amount of time it takes to complete a traditional one. For example, a bachelor's degree will more or less take about 4 years to earn one via distance education. So steer clear of any programs that promises a bachelor's degree in 3 years or less. This program is most likely illegitimate. However, there are some other ways that you can speed up the graduation process naturally, or at least ensure that you graduate in 4 years. Continue reading to find out how.

If you are a recent high school graduate and took Advance Placement Exams, the first thing you want to do is check to see whether your online program accepts AP credits. If they do, this may speed up your graduation date since you will be allowed to claim credit for certain classes and will not be required to take them. For example, you may be able to skip English I and go directly to English II. This will save you both time and money. Typically you have up to 10 years to claim your credit, so check with your school-of-choice to get more details about how this process works.

You also want to make sure that you are enrolled as a full-time student. This might be hard if you have a job or family, but if your other obligations are minimal, try to enroll in as many classes as you can. Technically a full-time student is anyone who takes 12 hours or more (typically 4 classes). But in order to graduate in 4 years—even with claiming a few AP credits— it's recommended that you enroll in 15 hours (5 classes). If you can't take on this course load, then at least consider taking summer courses and minimesters (which are offered during the break between the fall and spring semester.

Lastly, you want to make sure that you are closely monitoring which courses you are taking and which classes you need to take to make sure that you are on the track and fulfilling all the right degree requirements. You don't want to end up wasting your time and money taking a class that doesn’t even count towards you degree. A good way to avoid this is to get advice from your academic adviser come registration time and monitor your classes using an online audit report (almost all online schools give you access to a self-generating one).

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