Getting a degree in nursing is never easy. It takes time, money, and an intense amount of effort. There are some programs that truncate that effort into two years or less, instead of the usual four. Accelerated programs allow you to get a degree quickly, but are they worth it?
In this article, we look at some pros and cons of accelerated nursing programs and what it time you must put into them.
What is an Accelerated Nursing Degree?
As you might guess, an accelerated nursing degree is an educational program that unfolds faster than the standard four years — often going so far as to cut the time in half. Of course, you don’t learn less. That means that you’re pretty much squeezing four years of work into two.
I smell a compromise right there!
And we’re very impressed with you and your perceptive nose. Yes. The most obvious con of the accelerated program is that it’s intensely challenging. We will sketch out what that looks like in a little more detail later on, but it is a prohibitive shortcoming that might eliminate these programs as a possibility for some people.
Below, we will take a look at several of the other most prominent pros and cons of getting an accelerated nursing degree.
They Aren’t Cheap
Accelerated nursing programs often cost a little bit more than your typical four-year program. It’s not necessarily that you’ll spend more money overall. More that you’re spending a similar amount of money over less time.
If it costs — and these are made-up numbers, every program is different — one hundred thousand dollars to graduate in four years, you might find that it costs the same to graduate in eighteen months.
For many people, financing college requires a very strict, calculated budget. They can’t necessarily double their annual payments.
Government Assistance Might Not Cover It
Piggybacking off our last point, it’s important to understand also that you might not qualify for government assistance when you sign onto an accelerated program. This will ultimately depend on a lot of factors, so it’s a good idea to evaluate specific programs and see what kind of coverage is out there.
Nevertheless, odds are pretty good that you will be paying more in out-of-pocket costs for an accelerated nursing degree program.
Not Everyone Can Learn This Way
As we said, accelerated really does mean accelerated. If you’re even considering a nursing degree, learning in a fast-paced environment that is intrinsically associated with the accelerated nursing program may not be something you want to try.
If you were to try and get it done, you may need to think about pausing some of your current plans. If you are interested in say, raising children, or working a job during the accelerated program, those things are going to be hard to do. This curriculum is very much its own full-time job.
That’s another point to keep in mind. We talked already about the difficult financial reality of getting an accelerated degree. Keep in mind that while you are experiencing these massive payments, it may not be possible to work a job. For many people, that factor alone will eliminate it as a possibility.
It’s All Nuts and Bolts
As mentioned earlier, people in accelerated programs do learn essentially everything that people in normal programs do. There is an exception though: electives.
Oh! You mean we don’t get to spend thousands of dollars taking classes that have nothing to do with our major? How sad.
Well, when you put it like that it doesn’t sound so bad, but yeah. Here’s the thing — many find that electives expand their horizons and help them grow as people. They have the capacity to help you see the world in a different way, or even open your eyes to a career path you never knew you were interested in before.
They play an important role, and that role isn’t just to put more of your money in the university’s pocket. Granted, you may be able to seek electives on your own time. Say, a class here and there at your local community college. But how many people will actually do that?
It’s Not All Bad
No, of course not. There are good things about accelerated nursing programs as well. For one thing, because they are so short, it’s easier to keep your head down and power through. A lot of life can happen in four years. Maybe you pause for a year because you find out your partner is pregnant, or your dad is sick, or your dog needs urgent care.
Things happen, and when you stop it’s hard to start again. With an accelerated program it’s easier to keep the pedal to the floor. Whatever happens, you know you’ll be on the other side of it in six months to a year. It’s a sprint, not a marathon.
It’s particularly handy for people who want to go on to graduate studies eventually. Undergrad plus a master’s degree can easily take six to seven years when it’s all totaled.
Talk about losing focus, right? During that time, it’s hard to grow professionally or even raise a family. With the accelerated program, you can knock out all of your educational requirements in three to four years.
It will be a difficult four years, to be sure, but you come out the other end highly employable and ready to start paying those (truly) staggering student loan bills.
Finally, it’s just a big accomplishment, and who doesn’t like those? If you’re the sort of person that always needs a mountain to climb, well. Here it is. Otherwise, there are other ways to get ahead in nursing, like internships.
Is it a Compromise?
Sure, what isn’t? But compromises are by no means intrinsically bad. Accelerated nursing degrees will be great for some people, and nightmarish for others. You just need to decide if it’s a good fit for you. If you can bury yourself in school work for eighteen months and come out the other end bright-eyed and bushy-tailed enough to start working as a nurse, then by all means. Go for it.
If, on the other hand, you like to learn at a more gradual pace, this might not be the option for you.