Rev Up Your Degree with 8-Week College Courses

Many community college students go to school full time and also work, take care of their families, and have other responsibilities. For these students, time and money are tight, and it only takes one setback to derail an entire semester. This is where 8-week college courses can help.

Community colleges offer 8-week college courses that let students balance their education with their other commitments. If a sudden illness, family emergency, or car breakdown happens, the whole semester is not lost. And studies show that students who take 8-week classes are more likely to finish their degree. 

These accelerated classes help students stay the course and graduate on time. Even better, students remain eligible for financial aid. Here are the details:

What Are 8-Week College Courses?

Some colleges call them short courses, short semesters, or accelerated classes. 8-week college classes cover the same material as in a traditional 16-week class, but in half the time. These are not remedial classes. 8-week classes are college-level courses, and the work is at the college level.

Many colleges moved to 8-week courses as a result of the COVID pandemic to keep students on track with their programs. After seeing an increase in graduation rates and degree persistence, these colleges decided to go all in on 8-week schedules. 

A teacher with dark hair, wearing a black blazer and white shirt, smiles as she talks with students in her classroom at Austin Community College.
Some of the many benefits of 8-week college courses include a chance to earn credits faster in your degree program, without losing focus or momentum.

Here are some features of a short course schedule:

  • Students earn college credits for these classes, just as they would a 16-week course.
  • 8-week credits apply to their degree the same way a traditional 16-week college course applies.
  • Students can use these 8-week college courses to knock out their general studies prerequisites or other required classes.
  • A full-time course load consists of four classes, two in the first half of the semester, and two in the second half.

Pros and Cons of 8-Week Courses

Students often ask, “are 8-week classes hard?” The answer is, it depends. After all, college courses in general are often tough. The subject matter, lecture style, and materials all impact how hard a class is.

Effective study habits will help students master the material, no matter how long the class is.

Depending on your class style and preferences, an advantage for one student could be a disadvantage for another. Here are some of the pros and cons of 8-week courses. 

The Benefits of 8-Week Classes

The benefits of 8-week community college classes are many. Students can make good progress through their program while remaining eligible for financial aid. Some of the advantages are:

  • More focus. Students who take 8-week classes say they like the way they can keep a tight focus on the subject matter. As a result, taking two 8-week classes means students only have to cover the course material for two classes rather than four. 
  • Faster pace. 8-week classes cover the same material as 16-week classes in half the time. They are meant to be efficient, with few distractions. In fact, some studies show that by week 9 in a traditional course, student energy and concentration start to flag. Therefore, in an 8-week course, the class is done before that happens!
  • Reach goals faster. Students often prefer short courses because they can get through their program quicker. They like being able to cross classes off their to-do list, bringing them that much closer to their goals.
  • Time management. Students who take 8-week classes have more time for work and family, even when taking a full load. Instead of focusing on four classes throughout the semester, they only have to concentrate on two at a time.
  • Financial aid. An 8-week class counts as 3 credit hours. Therefore, four 8-week classes add up to 12 hours, which is a full-time schedule. This means students remain eligible for financial aid. 
  • Better outcomes. Colleges and universities have seen higher degree persistence and higher graduation rates with 8-week classes. This is an excellent benefit! College costs time, hard work, and money. Getting a degree is the reward for that investment, and one that will pay off over your career. 

And finally, one more benefit of 8-week community college classes: if a student has to withdraw temporarily from school, they haven’t lost 16 weeks of hard work. This means they are more likely to make it through school, more likely to get their degree or certificate, and more likely to go on to get a bachelor’s degree. 

The Disadvantages of 8-Week Classes

The advantages of 8-week classes are also the disadvantages. Not all students will thrive in this fast-paced environment. Some colleges that instituted 8-week classes during COVID saw their students and faculty struggle

It’s important to know if you are excited by the option to speed up your degree program or would prefer a traditional 16-week semester. 

Here are some downsides:

Tight Schedule

That fast pace means that students can’t miss an assignment or a test. Students who do well in accelerated classes are students who stay ahead of their studies. They don’t wait until the last minute to do the homework, read the assignment, or write the paper. It’s important to develop study skills and routines that help students be successful.

Less Flexibility

With an 8-week course, there is less flexibility for students who need to take a break or miss a class. As a result, there is also less opportunity for getting extra help. If students don’t keep up with the accelerated pace, it can be difficult to catch up, which can lead to lower grades or even failing the class.

Less Time

8-week courses cover the same amount of material as a traditional 16-week course, but there’s less time to master the subject. Students may be intimidated by the speed and intensity of a short course. 

Greater Time Commitment

A male student with brown skin and a tan sweater concentrates on his work at a learning lab at Austin Community College. Other students in the background work on their projects.
Students who do well in 8-week classes find that staying organized, studying regularly, and keeping up with their assignments are key habits.

Students must commit to spending time outside of class reviewing material and preparing for the next class. With only two classes, this is manageable. However, students who have gone through 8-week classes say that organization, time management, and planning are key to a successful semester. 

Less Leeway

One sick day can make it hard to catch up. Therefore, if the material is difficult, students may not have time to master it fully before the class moves on. This can make it harder to do well on the final exam.

8-Week Class Degree Programs at ACC

Whether you want to take general education, health sciences, business, or core classes, ACC has the 8-week program for you. You can choose academic or certificate programs, and make 8-week classes part of your degree plan. 

Some students may choose to take their general education requirements in 8-week blocks. They’ll save 16-week courses for upper-level classes or for material they know they’ll need more time with. 

Other students may go all in on 8-week classes, because they like being able to make progress fast. Or, they know that other commitments could break their momentum, so they like being able to focus in smaller chunks of time. 

Several men and women students walk along a walkway outside a tan brick building on the Austin Community College Northridge Campus.
Starting in fall 2023, the ACC Northridge campus offers a business administration major that can be achieved entirely through 8-week classes.

Can you get an entire degree with 8-week classes? At ACC, we offer a business administration major composed entirely of 8-week classes. ACC’s Business Administration Degree Program at the Northridge campus is designed to power you through your associate’s degree in record time. Therefore, you can achieve your goals faster – whether that’s to transfer to a four-year college or jump straight into the workforce. 

Whatever your learning style or your education goals, ACC has a program that fits your needs. 8-week classes are just one of many options that meets students where they are, and helps them reach their goals.

Take 8-Week College Courses at ACC

Ready to get started? Find out more about degree plans, 8-week courses, and how to become an ACC Riverbat. Let us help you meet your goals. 

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