Breaking out of the semester schedule is where accelerated studies fuse with distance learning to help students finish their degrees years ahead of their peers. Some older students have finished their degrees in less than a year by combining the credit-by-exam process and online coursework. Many high school students using accelerated distance learning have graduated from college at the same time their friends are applying to traditional universities.

What Employers Are Really Looking For

These days employers look for college graduates with internship and on-the-job training, not just a bachelor’s degree. In fact, most employers use the degree requirement as a way to filter out unqualified applicants. So the actual degree a college graduate holds is becoming less and less important in the business world. If the student’s major doesn’t matter that much anymore, what do employers want?

Experience.

The best way for a hiring executive to know if a candidate will work out is if the potential hire has work experience in his or her chosen career field. Seventy percent of students who engage in an internship are offered a job from the company they interned with, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Additionally, 90% of employers use their company’s intern program to hire new employees. Internships are absolutely essential because they prove that, in addition to having theoretical knowledge, a college graduate understands how to apply that knowledge in practical work situations.

Alan Patty is a former executive at both Sun Microsystems and Oracle Corporation and has hired graduates from top universities like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford. He says, “Functional knowledge is what separates the winners from the duds.” According to Patty, some of his hires possessed sky high IQs but didn’t know how to meet goals without a professor looking over their shoulders. With over thirty years of sales experience, Patty says that his most successful hires “knew how to think and not only what to think” and could assimilate facts they had learned in business school with the demands of a fast-paced work environment.

Specifically referring to distance learning degrees, Patty said that as an employer, he would actually prefer a distance learning student over one who finished a degree through the traditional route. To him, distance learning students show that they have taken ownership of their education and their purpose in life. A growing number of employers agree with Patty. In 2008, Vault.com, a leader in tracking employment trends around the globe, found that 81% more hiring managers look favorably on distance learning degrees than they did five years earlier. Now, some older employers still look askance at degrees earned outside the norm. However, this number is quickly dwindling as more candidates with a distance learning bachelor’s degree are applying for available positions.

Unlock Your Brain’s Full Learning Potential

In addition to applying credit-by-exam techniques for earning credit outside of the classroom, many students are also revolutionizing their studies by completing speed reading and memory skills courses. The most popular speed reading course among accelerated distance learners is from Howard Stephen Berg, the Guinness Book of World Records’ speed reading record holder. At his height, Berg could read 75,000 words a minute, and he now teaches workshops around the country on improving reading speed. Students who use Berg’s course, typically within a three to four week period, double and triple their reading speed by consistently practicing simple reading drills.

The accelerated distance learning revolution owes its inception to Brad Voeller, co-founder of CollegePlus! and author of Accelerated Distance Learning. Voeller completed his fully accredited business degree in six months using ADL methods that he devised on his own. One of Voeller’s secrets to speeding up his degree was integrating dynamic memory skills with speed reading techniques from Howard Berg. Other students have done the same and have thus been enabled to move through massive amounts of information quickly and remember the key points they need to pass the exams they plan to get college credit from.