Accelerated Online Degree Completion Program proves a success for students

Luis Martinez, Writer

An innovative and flexible online program helps students garner a college degree. 

On the 29th of August, 2022 the Accelerated Online Degree Completion Program was launched. This program entails a seven-week semester in which a student can take up to two asynchronous courses at a time, meaning you study and work when it is convenient for you while meeting the overall course requirements. Along with completing courses from schools ranging from the College of Arts and Sciences to the School of Management, the student is allowed to focus on two out of the three interdisciplinary studies: “cybersecurity fundamentals, data analytics and interpretation, or digital communication.” 

The initial goal of the program was to be accessible to a specific large market of students. Much like the concerns surrounding the initial inquiry of the transformation plan, a low high school graduation rate inspired the creation of the AODC. AODC Director and sociology professor said around 400,000 people in Michigan did not finish their degrees in college. 

According to data from the Education Data, “College dropout rates indicate that up to 32.9% of undergraduates do not complete their degree program,” and “College dropouts are 19.6% more likely to be unemployed than any degree holder.”

AODC aims to provide a program that caters to the needs of these non-traditional students by “maximizing flexibility.” The students are not just from here in Michigan but across the nation. The aim of the certificates is to provide technical skills that are in high demand in industries.

In an interview with the program Barnes, he discussed how the initial process and expected results from this program have had a broader impact. 

Barnes pointed out that challenges aren’t equally distributed in society and many students who do not finish their college degree come from these challenges. 

“These students often feel that there is a void in their life having missed their chance to finish their degree,” said Barnes.

Many of these students already have lives and careers that have done well in supporting them and their families but the AODC program had helped them realize their aspirations for them Jaimee Taylor, a current student of the program and a full-time chemist with a family said  “being able to finish my degree on my own time in the evenings after dinner and the kids are in bed is perfect. Listening to some audiobooks for classes during my commute is actually really efficient.”

Barnes also highlighted how the technical qualities of AODC distinguish the program from others like it at UM and across the nation. The combination of the shortened periods, asynchronous learning, and focus on maximizing flexibility allow for an inclusive program. 

But above all, Barnes wanted to highlight the interesting aspects many of the students bring to the program stating “It’s been great working with students with life experience that require time.”

Many of the experiences that are accumulated with time, especially in this era, are often drastic and different as many students who graduate must be flexible in a society where needs change. With the AODC program, Barnes thinks that “this program expands the reach and potential good.”