If youre an adult considering going back to school or continuing work toward a traditional or online degree, you might have good reason to do so. More jobs require training beyond high school, and its becoming more difficult to earn a comfortable living without a bachelors degree, according to education organizations. Youre also likely to find yourself among many other adult students.
Many colleges are recognizing the needs of adult students, in part by providing traditional and online degree programs that make studies more convenient. With scholarship, fellowship, grant and savings plan opportunities available, adults might also find that going back to school and continuing their studies can be more affordable. Adults who return to school have, in many instances, methods where they can more quickly obtain a degree as well. Some areas to consider:
Study from home or go hybrid. More colleges are offering complete online degree programs, as well as degrees that combine online course work with time in the classroom. A US Department of Education study suggested that college, university and technical school students participating in hybrid programs fared better academically than other students. Some institutions combine blocks of time on campus with online course work. Many offer degree programs where courses are held during evenings and weekends. Following are more details about options that might help ensure success for adults going back to school:
Save yourself some time. Many of these schools offer opportunities to convert life experiences work, military training, travel, volunteerism, hobbies and more to academic credit. A Council for Adult Experiential Learning study released in March 2010 showed that students who gained life experience credits saved up to 10 months of time toward earning degrees. Many institutions also offer whats known as credit for course completion where, for a fee, students who participate in certain courses can earn academic credit by taking and passing exams related to those courses. You might even find a traditional or online degree program in your subject area of study that comes in an accelerated variety, shaving more time off the time it takes to obtain a degree.
Save yourself some money. Fellowships, scholarships and grants are available to adult students based on factors that might include financial need, subject area of study and demographics. Working adults might find that theyre eligible for college and university work-study programs or that their employers offer tuition reimbursement benefits that pay for traditional and online degree studies as long as certain academic levels are met. Still other employers might have initiated Council for Adult Experiential Learning-initiated Lifelong Learning Account (LiLA) savings plans that are similar to 401 (k) plans. Some states offer opportunities to participate in 5 to 9 college, university and technical school investment plans.
Make use of available resources. Speak with academic counselors about your individual situation and the subject areas that youre considering for a major as a means of determining if there are degree or certificate programs that might suit your needs and desires particularly well and provide transfer credits, in instances where you might proceed from a certificate to a degree program at some point. If you feel you might need some academic tutoring, find out if the college, university or technical school that interests you offers this service or peer networking groups. Free online college course materials, such as video lectures, might also provide study assistance.
The College Board reports that more jobs require training beyond high school. A 2004 Lumina Foundation for Education report noted that 54 million American adults didnt have a college or university degree and that 34 million of these adults hadnt taken any college or university courses at all. In a changing working world, adults might find themselves having to continuously go back to school for training, the Lumina Foundation report noted. Many increases in fall 2010 enrollments have been attributed, at least in part, to adult students who are going back to school.