Adult Learners on the Fast Track
MCLA graduated its first class of Fast Track students last month, when 11 Berkshire County residents completed their bachelor's degrees. Through Fast Track, these adult learners earned their college degrees quickly while working full time by attending classes held at flexible times in three convenient locations - at MCLA in North Adams, at the Intermodal Center in Pittsfield, and at the south county campus of Berkshire Community College in Great Barrington.
According to Ned Saviski '10, who majored in business administration, "The Fast-Track Program appealed to me primarily because of the convenience and amount of classes offered for working adults. Because of this convenience, I was able to finish my Bachelor's degree in half the time as what I originally expected, and with a schedule and locations that worked for me."
Since it began in the fall of 2007, the program has grown. Currently, well over 100 students are enrolled. And, a third major was added last year.
In addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, Fast Track students may opt for a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology.
According to Program Coordinator Kelly Jourdain, "In Berkshire County, this degree offers people employment opportunities because of the many sociology-related jobs in the area."
When Melissa James '10 earned her degree in interdisciplinary studies last month, it was the completion of a longtime, personal goal. Prior to participating in the 2010 Commencement exercises, she and her classmates were the guests of honor at a special reception held to recognize Fast Track's first graduating class.
"I wanted to finish my degree. I started it years ago. When this program first began, I said, 'This would be a great opportunity for me to finally get it done,'" James said.
While the program is a big commitment, the professors are just as committed, Saviski said.
"They are all very passionate about what they teach, experienced in real-life scenarios and extremely devoted to each student's success," he said. "I highly recommend the Fast Track Program to any working adult like myself wanting to further their education, or committed students who want to expedite the time spent earning a degree."
While students can get a jump start on their classes in MCLA's next summer session - which begins on July 6 - the Fast Track program starts again on Aug. 30 with fall courses. Rolling admissions happen throughout the year, through four, eight-week modules - two in the fall and two in the spring. Students also may attend two, six-week modules in the summer.
Those who take two courses each module will complete 36 credit hours per year. This allows a student with an Associate's degree to earn a BS or BA in 20 months. Those with no prior college credits may complete their degree in approximately three and a half years, or 40 months.
To find out more about the Fast Track program, go to www.mcla.edu/CE/fasttrack .