Last year at this time, I had just completed my first semester back in college after an eighteen-year break. I was worn down after a demanding holiday season coupled with a pressure-filled finals week. Although I survived the experience intact, I wondered if there might be an easier, less stressful way to do fall semester in the future.
Fortunately, I discovered the beauty of accelerated hybrid classes this past fall when the two classes I wanted to take—Creative Writing I and English Composition II—were both offered in this format.
An accelerated class is a fifteen-week class reduced to eight weeks. It requires the same amount of coursework as a traditional class, but is completed in half the time. A hybrid class is a combination of online and traditional elements with assignments often submitted over the internet and requiring less frequent on campus class meetings.
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Initially, I balked at the higher costs involved and worried that the coursework would be overwhelming. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that it was worth paying higher tuition in order to be done by mid-October. And my fear that the amount of coursework would be more difficult turned out to be unfounded. I still had concrete deadlines to meet, but surprisingly, the workload was quite doable and didn’t feel any harder to complete than it did in a fifteen-week class.
In fact, this class arrangement proved to be beneficial to me in many ways. I was still able to enjoy interacting with my peers and professors on a regular basis while retaining the flexibility of working in the online environment. Because I didn’t have as many classes to attend, it was easier to arrange child care.
Best of all, I wasn’t an edgy, stressed-out mom like I was last year. With a three-month break between semesters, I was able to thoroughly enjoy Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with my kids because I wasn’t inundated with homework.
I used the extra time to pursue other interests, too. I got a lot of reading done, went to lunch with my friends and family, took a relaxing trip to Cancun with my husband in November, and accepted a position on an editorial board for a women’s literary magazine.Get the latest college news -- only on Fastweb.
One ambitious woman in my English Composition class liked the accelerated format so much that she enrolled in twenty-one credits last semester. By taking a combination of online, late-start, accelerated, and hybrid classes, she stacked her courses in such a way that she was able to maximize the credits she could earn in a given semester.
Although I’m not in a position to take on as much as she did, I’m glad there are so many course options available. Thankfully, more and more two and four-year institutions are tuning in to the particular needs of nontraditional students by offering accelerated and hybrid courses in many fields of study.
There has never been a better time for me to go back to school and taking condensed hybrid classes in the fall is one way I can ease the path for myself and my family while I’m working on my degree.