By Daniel Gerger, President, Adult Education Advocates
Going to college can be difficult for any person. However, adult students face additional pressures when returning to school. Family obligations, financial difficulties, and time constraints are just a few of the added burdens an adult faces. So, when making the decision to return to college, adult students need to make sure they have support from family members, their workplace, and from the school they are attending.
1. Find a College That Accommodates the Adult Student.
schools have in place programs that make it convenient for adult
students to succeed. The first thing a student should do is make sure
that the college has degree programs specifically geared for adults. The
best option is usually an accelerated degree program, which provides
the quality and depth of a traditional undergraduate degree with the
flexibility of an accelerated evening or weekend schedule. Typically a
course is offered in seven- to 10-week terms, with classes that meet
once or twice a week. This allows students to earn 30 to 36 credits per
year toward their degree and finish more quickly. If a student were to
take two courses a year in a typical 15-week semester, it could take up
to 10 years to get a bachelor’s degree. Finally, most accelerated
degree programs offer on-campus, online, and blended course delivery
methods. This gives the student the flexibility to learn anytime or
place they have access to the Internet.
2. Talk to Human Resources and the Boss.
Having an employer who supports and encourages a worker’s decision to go back to college can provide peace of mind as well as financial benefits. Typically, an employer can assist a student is through tuition reimbursement. In some instances, t100 percent refund of tuition costs are refunded to the student after a class is completed. Even if a company offers a more limited benefit, it makes sense to investigate the tuition reimbursement policies of your employer. Another benefit that many employers offer to their workers is flex-time. If a course begins at 6 p.m. and a student needs to leave work early, many companies will allow the employee to start earlier. The important point to remember is that companies want an educated workforce and most are willing to accommodate their employees when they go back to college.
3. Make Sure Your Family is Onboard
For adults, it is critical to talk to family members before going back to college. Adult students can expect to be in class at least once and usually twice a week. Homework and class preparation will add another five to 10 hours of work each week. If a person’s family supports the decision to go back to college, it can have a very positive impact on the student’s success. Having a partner who will share household and child care responsibilities is critical. For adults, it is very important to communicate with family members before going back to college and to keep the lines of communication open once enrolled.
Remember that going back to college is a big responsibility, but with the help of the college, family members, and employers, thousands of adults are graduating from both undergraduate and graduate schools every year.
Daniel Gerger is the President of Adult Education Advocates, an organization that helps adults make the transition back to college.