The Education Option For You
By Christina Couch, Contributing Writer
Between full-time jobs and spending time with the family, most working adults barely have time to catch their breath, much less earn an extra degree. Before you decide that heading back to the classroom simply can’t fit into your busy schedule, consider your options. From meeting professors face-to-face to completing course requirements online, today’s adult learner has more educational options than ever before. Check out these educational options
Get ready for pencils, books, and teacher’s dirty looks. Adults who return to traditional brick and mortar classes may either opt to take standard day time courses or can opt for night and weekend classes that are more conducive to maintaining a full-time job. The benefits of physically attending class include the ability to ask questions and participate in classroom discussions in real time as well as the opportunity to meet, network, and complete assignments alongside other learners in both your town and field of study. For every hour of time spent in class, students should budget in two to three hours of outside study time.
A popular choice among non-traditional students, online courses allow adult learners to complete their degree on their lunch breaks, before the kids are up, or after everyone’s gone to bed. While some online programs of study are synchronous, requiring students to log in at a certain time to participate in live chats together, the majority are asynchronous, allowing e-learners to complete assignments and contribute to class discussion boards on their own time.
While you won’t have to worry about memorizing facts and dates (since your tests, if you have any at all, will be open book), you will have to be incredibly disciplined, keep up with your assignments, and make a conscious effort to stay in contact with your professor via telephone or e-mail. Before enrolling in an online program of study, do your homework and check out the school’s reputation as well as its accreditation status to avoid the diploma mill trap.
Part e-course, part real world experience, hybrid programs require students to enroll in online classes as well as work a full-time job, complete an in-person internship, or volunteer for a specified number of hours. Combining classroom learning with practical application, students enrolled in hybrid programs earn a degree without sacrificing their careers and get the benefit of communicating with other adult learners from around the country who are working in the same field.
Classroom discussions and assignments typically work in conjunction with the jobs students are performing outside of class, giving hybrid program enrollees the opportunity to immediately apply their studies to their careers. Though programs vary tremendously from school to school, all hybrid students will be expected to complete both online and real-world assignments. If interested in taking the hybrid plunge, contact the Council for Higher Education Accreditation at 202-955-6126 or online at www.chea.org to make sure your school is fully accredited.
Partial Residency Programs:
For students yearning for an in-class experience who simply can’t put in the hours on campus, partial residency programs offer the ability to live and work on a college campus for a few weeks out of the year (typically two to four) then complete the rest of the program online. During the short residency period, students work directly with their professors and get the ability to use on-campus resources including libraries and research facilities as well as meet and greet their online classmates. Between residency periods, students communicate via e-mail, video conferencing, and online message boards, preparing for the next in-person encounter.