Adults Returning to School

zrylw It’s never too late to start a new career, earn a degree, or simply gain more knowledge about a particular subject. The still struggling economy and poor job market have been enticing more adults than ever back into the classroom.

Returning to school isn’t easy, but neither is it impossible. Numerous systems are in place to assist adults who wish to further their education. A college degree may not be the ultimate goal for everyone, and sometimes just a few classes can help secure a new job or gain a promotion at work.

Not everyone can find the time or the money to return to college on a full-time basis, but other opportunities are available for adults who wish to further their education. Online study has become a very popular method. An online college class is flexible and convenient and can be taken from anywhere in the world with Internet access. However, it is imperative to research prospective schools to confirm they are accredited so that credits earned are recognized worldwide.

Community colleges are also a smart choice. They have much lower tuition fees than a four-year university. The first two years of college are dedicated to general education classes, so even if a four-year bachelor’s degree is the ultimate goal, completing the first two years at a community college makes good financial sense.

Colleges and the government offer loans, scholarships and grants to help students pay for higher education. A federal Pell Grant is based on income and is free money for qualifying students. Low-interest student loans are another option. Several private and state universities either waive or reduce tuition for senior citizens.

If learning is the primary objective instead of earning a degree, it’s possible to complete college classes online at no cost. Stanford, Harvard, MIT and other institutions offer free online classes to students around the world. These classes provide students with basic knowledge to form a foundation for learning. There is no admissions process, and certificates are available for a small fee to students who master the material. The classes are free but the courses don’t count toward a college degree.

Many people who would like to return to college but are concerned they will feel out of place among younger students should know that 37 percent of all college students are adults over the age of 25.

Adults going back to school should craft a realistic plan that balances work, family and class time. Juggling multiple responsibilities is a challenge, but with the right strategy and determination, all that’s left is honoring a commitment to achieving the objective: an education.

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