College, on Your Own

Competency-based education can help motivated students. But critics say it’s no panacea.

Laura Segall for The Chronicle

Nichele Pollock, a student in Northern Arizona U.’s competency-based bachelor’s-degree program, takes a Spanish exam online.
July 14, 2014

Nichele L. Pollock felt like she was moving through college in slow motion. In seven years, she had gotten about halfway through her bachelor’s degree.

But recently she’s been racing forward, racking up 50 credits in just eight months at Northern

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