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Adult Learner

How to finish college faster with a custom degree

How to finish college faster

Going back to school after a hiatus can be nerve-wracking, whether it’s been a few semesters or an entire decade. Many adult learners are concerned about overcoming the obstacles they may face on their journeys back to the classroom, whether virtual or on campus.

But that draw to complete your degree and start the next chapter of your life is hard to ignore. The good news is, there are programs today that have been designed to streamline your path to a degree with flexible learning options, making going back to school more feasible for adult students.

The Bachelor of Arts in Applied Studies (BAAS) program at UMass Global is one of them. BAAS students are able to finish college faster, focusing on the courses most relevant to their career pursuits. Join us as we explore the details of this custom degree path.

What is a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Studies?

What makes BAAS programs so versatile is that rather than focusing on a single academic area, an applied studies degree is interdisciplinary in nature. This approach develops well-rounded professionals who have the writing, communication, critical thinking and leadership skills needed to succeed across industries.

As a BAAS student, you’ll explore multicultural perspectives, sociological change, technological advances and leadership theories in today’s workforce. Students at UMass Global have the opportunity to work with your advisor to customize your electives to align with your career or choose from one of the four following paths:

Regardless of their areas of specialization, BAAS graduates exit their college programs armed with an expansive repertoire of skills that will help them be effective in a range of different career paths.

How to finish college faster with a BA in Applied Studies

Because each student has unique circumstances and priorities, it’s not possible to predict exactly how long your undergraduate experience will take. But the BAAS program at UMass Global does have several key features designed to help streamline your process to degree completion.

We spoke with two UMass Global graduates to find out the top four benefits of earning an applied studies degree.

1. Flexible learning options that fit your schedule

At UMass Global, we know our students — and their needs — extremely well. That’s why we offer the program in a 100 percent online learning format, so you can choose what works best for you. Our eight-week courses are offered year-round, with six session starts each year. This gives you the chance to focus on one subject at a time before moving on to the next class.

For alumna Dawn Loyola, this flexibility made all the difference when it came to finishing her degree. She first ventured into higher education fresh out of high school, but she dropped out halfway through her associate degree program.

Twenty years later, Loyola was married, raising a family and working full time, but the desire to finish her degree was always at the back of her mind. She began to realize that a bachelor’s degree was the key to reaching her goals. Loyola recalls,


I was so excited to discover the applied studies option. It ticked all the boxes for me: online program, interdisciplinary curriculum and the ability to pick and choose my classes.

This custom degree path enabled Loyola to embark upon a journey she wasn’t sure was possible for her: earning a bachelor’s degree her way.

2. Expert assistance to help you get credit for prior experience

It’s very common for college students to change schools at some point. You worked hard for those credits, and you don’t want any of them to go to waste. However, evaluating and transferring credits can be confusing, especially if you’re doing it on your own.

At UMass Global, our enrollment coaches are experts in helping you navigate this often tedious process. Not only can this help you graduate faster, but it might also save you money in the long run.

Need more information on this topic? Check out “4 Ways transfer students can get college credits for prior experience” and “The transfer student’s guide to choosing the right college.”

3. Choose courses that are most relevant to your career

Almost all adult students come to the classroom with a wealth of practical knowledge they’ve gained throughout the years. Whether you’re looking to break into a new field or advance in a career path you’ve already grown to love, a BA in Applied Studies allows you to tailor your classes to suit your goals.

When the courses you’re taking are interesting and applicable to your aspirations, it can spark a renewed sense of motivation. “For me, if what I’m learning isn’t relevant, I tend to forget it,” Loyola says. “I customized my degree to include psychology, communication and leadership, which are all things I use every day. The applied studies degree really wrapped everything up in a bow for me and helped me get where I am today.”

UMass Global alum Marc Posner experienced the same sense of utility in the BAAS program. He explains that,


I look at the applied studies program as the Swiss army knives of degrees. It works for so many people.

Like many students, Posner worked while going to school. He found that his courses, especially organizational leadership, provided him with new knowledge and skills he could immediately apply on the job.

“I often pulled theories and concepts from class and presented the info to my colleagues,” he states. “I’m thankful for the BAAS degree because it allowed me to take what I already knew and expand it — plus it exposed me to new concepts that I didn’t know existed.”

4. Create a personalized education plan with support from dedicated academic advisors

Our commitment to students is second to none. In fact, 95 percent of alumni say UMass Global supported their needs as adult learners. The institution’s team of dedicated academic advisors play a critical role in getting students across the finish line to graduation. They work diligently to help students select the right classes, fulfill credit requirements and map out a path to finishing their degrees.

“I wouldn’t be here today without my advisor,” Posner notes. “I am forever indebted to her for listening to me, understanding my goals and finding a way to make it happen.”

Build your degree from the job up

It’s clear that earning a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Studies can pave a versatile path for adult learners craving a custom degree that will help them get ahead in the workplace sooner. Now that you understand how to finish college faster, what doubts do you still have that might be holding you back?

Find out if you’re ready to head back to school by reading our article 6 Signs that now is the right time to finish your degree.

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