Increasing choice in higher ed: 3 alternatives to traditional college

Written by The Likely Voter

September 20, 2023

As the cost of higher education continues to rise, many students are seeking out innovative and alternative pathways to the traditional four-year college degree. Several colleges and universities in Utah have developed programs tailored to the unique financial and career needs of students. To help students and parents of college-age children navigate the changing educational landscape, here are three programs offered here in Utah that could better serve incoming students. 

Degree in 3 

For students that are seeking the traditional four-year degree while incurring a lighter financial burden, Southern Utah University offers a “Degree in 3” program. Utilizing the open summer blocs as additional semesters, SUU offers every student the opportunity to take courses at the school’s in-state tuition rate. Unlike other variations of Degree in 3 programs, SUU is not offering accelerated courses, but instead giving students two summers to advance in their studies at a normal coursework pace. 

Talent Ready Utah 

Originally piloted as the Utah Aerospace Pathways program in 2015, Talent Ready Utah provides workforce development programs for recent high school graduates through apprenticeship-style participation. Working in employer-designed programs, students are trained and educated in the specific skills they’ll need to perform in jobs across Utah. The program received state support following a defined need for specific skills in growing industries across Utah. 

Technical colleges 

Breaking out of the traditional classroom, Utah offers eight different technical colleges. Take for example Tooele Technical College; it offers programs in areas like construction, healthcare and transportation, and it even has a police academy. It offers competency-based education that allows students to move at their own pace. Formatted for students who may not have the means or opportunity to partake in a traditional semester format, Tooele Tech gives students the education and tools they need to become competitive in their given market. 


As Utah diversifies its K-12 education programs through choices, it should be highlighted that the state’s colleges and universities are doing likewise. In recent years, four-year college programs have become significantly more expensive, understandably prompting some students to consider the return on investment.   

With programs like the three noted above – and more – graduating high school students can confidently and comfortably achieve success with an increasing range of options for post-secondary learning. 

For a more in-depth perspective on this article, read our Insights piece here.

Takeaways: the most important things voters need to know. For civically engaged citizens.  

  • Utah colleges and universities continue to develop diverse ways for students to gain access to a quality education.
  • Higher education alternatives are tailored to each student’s needs.
  • Utah is leading the way on impactful, quality education and career paths.

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