“Time Compressed Degree Programs” provides the potential for students to simultaneously complete the high school diploma and associate degree in 4 years, the baccalaureate degree in 2 additional years at Sam Houston State University, and master’s degree in 1 additional year (many fields) for a total of 7 years by taking advantage of existing state laws. This allow the student to enter the work force with a baccalaureate 2 years earlier than traditional education with potential cost savings in the neighborhood of 40%.
How is this possible? The state mandated high school college/university bound curriculum requires approximately 2.8 to 3.1 years (time difference primarily due to hourly or block scheduling). That leaves 1 year for college/university courses. The legislature requires an additional 12 hour minimum of classes that can be used for higher education in “Dual Credit,” “AP,” or similar programs. The remainder of the traditional 4 years is consumed primarily by study hall and extracurricular activities not leading to graduation. Many college districts now offer “Early College” programs where students simultaneously earn the high school diploma and associate degree. Time Compressed Degree Plans are feasible for all highly motivated students who are intellectually capable and desire to excel academically.
Cost savings are primarily due to the student’s ability to complete college/university level credit while living at home while in high school. The primary expenses of traditional higher education include room and board or commuting to the institution of higher education. Many colleges offer high school students free or greatly reduced pricing to participate in dual credit classes. The ability to enter the work force 2 years earlier than traditional educational paths reflects additional savings.
Sam Houston State University offers a number of programs with cooperating college/high school districts to aid students achieve the fruits of Time Compressed degree plans including Online Articulation, Joint Admissions, Cooperative Advising, and Reverse Transfer.
Despite the financial advantages of Time Compressed Degree Plans many students will still prefer to maximize the traditional college experience. The advantages of working with and learning from university faculty and researchers should not be underestimated. The opportunities for developing lifelong relationships and the culturally rich environment provided by universities is seldom duplicated or available elsewhere.