Adult Students Return to College with Becker's Accelerated Degree Program

Published on Monday, May 7th, 2007

It was a quiet Tuesday evening at the Conference Center of Marlborough, Mass. At the reception desk, a woman nodded and smiled as people in business attire ambled past her and down the stairs, skirting a dining hall with tables shrouded in white tablecloths. A buzz of voices floated down a nearby hallway. Twenty-one students enrolled in Becker College’s accelerated degree program in business were gathering at the college’s satellite campus for that evening’s seminar. Some were long-time professionals, some full-time mothers, others recently laid-off from their jobs, but all were committed to earning their bachelor of science degree in the two-year program.

As Peter Falk of Leominster, Mass., puts it, “Getting a bachelor of science degree puts me on a level playing field. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner.”

Ron Christiansen of Holden, Mass., agrees. “I can’t go any further in my career until I have my bachelor’s degree,” he says. “After this, if I go on to get my MBA; I can climb even farther.”

Becker College’s accelerated degree program was designed to provide adult students with flexible degree-completion options. Although Becker College has two dedicated campuses, in Worcester and Leicester, Mass., its accelerated degree program caters to busy professionals by offering courses in several locations around the central part of the state, including Marlborough. “It’s right next door. You can’t get any more convenient than that!” exclaims Judy Ryan of Westminster, Mass.

Courses are generally five to seven weeks in length, and meet one evening per week. “I like the accelerated part—being able to see tangible results every five weeks,” explains Rick Onorato of Westborough, Mass.

To Jonathan Medina of Worcester, “The best part of the accelerated program is being able to get through it quickly. It makes a big difference when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Darlene Minezzi of Leominster elaborates, saying, “Only one night a week is great. It’s hard to schedule more than one night for class.”

Jeff Kane of Westminster agrees that it’s difficult to work full-time and earn a degree during the day. “I can only fit one class a week,” he reveals. “I like the structure of Becker’s accelerated program. You learn a lot in a short amount of time.” He also appreciates the fact that the focus is on real-life experiences, rather than lectures. “Becker teaches us in a real way, not an academic way,” he states. “They teach us as professionals.”

The professors at Becker are professionals in the field they are teaching, and their classroom focus is on studying real-world work situations in smaller peer groups. According to Bob Eglitis of Maynard, Mass., “The peer group support was something I didn’t expect, but it’s been a big positive. There’s always someone there to talk to, and you get the sense that you’re not going through it alone.”

Dawn Roche of Bellingham, Mass., echoes that sentiment. “It helps to have different people together in the same boat. And with a group scenario, you get feedback from others and can push yourself more,” she says.

Christiansen adds, “There’s a good mix of professionals within the group. And the bonus is that there are no tests, per se. It’s all coursework, presentations, papers, and homework.”

Many of the students interviewed had attended college previously but left for a variety of reasons before completing their degree. One such student is Kathy DeLorie of Holliston, Mass., who had attended college during the early 1990s but put her plans on hold when she was married. When she enrolled in the Becker College program, she was delighted to discover that many of her previous credits would be accepted. “Becker College is very flexible about transferring credits, and I can get additional credits for my professional work,” she explains.

Many students simply want the satisfaction of achieving a bachelor’s degree. “It’s not so much professional as personal,” says Jennifer Day of Marlborough, Mass. “It’s just something I really wanted to do.”

For most students, however, the bottom line is the opportunity to enhance their professional lives with a degree from Becker College. “I realized that I needed to return to college in order to advance my career,” says Allison Dent of Northborough, Mass. “This program may open doors for me. It’s giving me confidence in my abilities, and the courses are very relevant to what I put into play on my job every day.”