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Returning to College as an Adult Learner in 2021

Returning to College as an Adult Learner in 2021

As a seasoned adult, you’ve been around the block and you know a thing or two. There’s simply no substitute for life experience. Imagine the advice you’d give a younger version of yourself if you could!

When it comes to your professional life, your work experience is just as valuable. And while employers may be excited about the knowledge you bring to the table, most require a degree or higher education to go with your work experience to be considered.

Take a Cue

If you’re worried that it’s too late, take a cue from Bobbie McGinley. She regretted not completing her degree. She was thinking about going back to school in her 40s but was concerned that she was “too old and too dumb” to become a college student again. She had the following conversation with a friend on her 46th birthday: 

Friend: How long do you think it will take you to get your degree?

Bobbie: About five years.

Friend: How old will you be then?

Bobbie: 51.

Friend: How old will you be if you do NOT go to school?

McGinley got the picture and went on to earn her BA, MA, and MBA from Ottawa University. Of course, you have an advantage. Ottawa University’s online accelerated degrees will take far less than five years!

Reasons to Return

Your reasons for wanting to earn a degree as an adult are unique to you – and there are no bad reasons. But in case you’re on the fence, let’s explore some of the common motivators that may encourage you to enroll sooner rather than later.

  • Delayed Retirement

Many Americans nearing retirement are concerned about future availability of Social Security, pensions being lost through early job dismissal, and retirement funds unable to stretch as far as needed. That’s why more and more adults are extending their careers. Education can be a key component of that.

  • Job Transition

With the added knowledge and experience that comes with a career, many adults realize they are not satisfied in their current job. They want something different and more fulfilling to finish out their working years. It’s never too late to pursue that dream job or change careers.

  • Staying Abreast

To remain competitive in your current field, it may be necessary to take the occasional course, earn a new certification, or complete a degree to stay in the ring with your peers.

  • Finishing What You Started

If you always meant to go to college, or if you started on your degree and never completed it, then you can prove to yourself and your family that you are a That old(er) dogs can still learn new tricks?

  • Salary Increase/Career Advancement

Numerous adults return to college for the boost in salary that comes with earning a degree, as well as the opportunities for promotion and advancement it opens up. Both are worthy reasons and can substantially add to retirement revenue.

It’s More Convenient Than Ever

Let’s face it - COVID-19 has made online learning the norm instead of the exception. In fact, as it relates to a college education, about 33% of students are taking at least one course online, according to a survey by the Babson Survey Research Group.

The convenience of online learning can’t be beat. You can earn a degree from the comfort of your living room or coffee shop. All geographic barriers are removed. If you work or have a family or both, you can do coursework on your schedule. Earning a degree in 2021 has never been easier.

 

So Many Benefits

We’ve already talked about the convenience of online learning. Another benefit that we’ve alluded to is the faster pace at which you can finish an online degree, if desired. Ottawa University’s accelerated, online degrees allow you to complete a course every eight weeks. Double up on courses, and you’ll see the finish line in no time. 

Our online programs are tailored for working adults, and the professors value what those students bring to the table in the classroom. They understand where you are in life and use that as an advantage in assignments and discussions.

Work/Life Balance and More

Another benefit of earning an online degree is the ability to maintain work/life balance – doing coursework when it fits your schedule or even taking a term off if needed. Networking among your peers can prove extremely valuable as you share common work problems/solutions, make connections for future employment, or even find a study partner. Perhaps one of the most reassuring benefits is knowing that employers now recognize online degrees from accredited universities as equally valuable as on-campus degrees.

What to Expect

More adults make up the online college classroom than ever before.  In fact, in 2018, there were nearly 7 million students enrolled in distance education at colleges and universities in the U.S. So, if you’re thinking about returning to college as an adult learner in 2021, you’re going to be in good company. That’s the first thing you can expect.

Beyond that, you will be challenged in new and exciting ways. You will do a lot of reading and writing. You will get to bring real-world scenarios to the classroom for discussion and take new knowledge back to the workplace for immediate application. You will use an online learning platform like Blackboard to submit assignments and interact with fellow students and professors via discussion boards. As you master the ins and outs of online learning, you will grow your knowledge and skills in the field that excites you, and you will, no doubt, make some new friends. Great expectations!

How to Get Started

First, understand that not all schools are created equal. Before enrolling, do some early homework to identify the right school for you - one that is accredited and has a strong track record of educating adults online; one that uses industry experts as teachers; one that is committed to encouraging critical thinking and the free exchange of ideas; one that has the programs you are looking for with a high job placement rate; and one that has robust resources to support you throughout your educational journey. Ottawa University meets all of those criteria.

Next Steps

Your next step is to enroll in classes. First, schedule an appointment with an enrollment advisor. Our enrollment experts are happy to answer all of your questions and set your mind at ease about returning to school as an adult. They will walk you through the process, connect you with other advisors for outlining your degree completion program, and assist with financial aid, including determining what former education or training will be accepted for credit towards your degree. As the most affordable online university in Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Phoenix, Ottawa University offers a generous credit transfer policy that may offset some of your costs.

Next, you will fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to see what federal aid you may be entitled to. Your enrollment advisor will guide you as you collect formal transcripts from any other schools you have attended and documentation for any training or certifications you have earned. You should also find out if your employer has tuition reimbursement or assistance. Assess your schedule and determine how much time you can realistically allot towards your education each week. Identify your support system so you know who you can call on when needed.

The Time is Now

If going back to school has been in the back of your mind, then it’s time to shake things up to bring it front and center. We are here to help! You can either request information or call us at 855-774-7714 to get started.

Explore our Online Blog Spot for useful online learning tips and career advancement strategies.

Posted: 03/15/2021 by OU Online
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