5 Things Adults Should Know Before Going Back to School
Higher Education Going back to school? Millions of adults are. However, the tools aren’t the only things that have changed; here’s what you should know before you enroll as an adult learner.
Currently, 40 percent of college students in the United States are 25 or older. With a recent U.S. Census report suggesting that adults with a bachelor’s degree stand to earn an average of nearly $1 million more over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma, it’s not surprising that more adults are attending college.
Of course, this shift in the new normal student couldn’t come about without an evolution in the higher education landscape. Today, a significant number of colleges and universities are implementing programs and policies that meet adult learners’ needs. To ensure your success earning a postsecondary education, here are some trends in higher education that you should be aware of:
1. You can get credit for what you already know
“Why should I have to spend the time, money and effort taking courses to learn something I already know?” That’s the question most commonly asked by adults, and it’s a valid one. Thankfully, the answer is quickly becoming “you don’t.” Options like prior learning assessment (PLA) provide students with ways to transfer knowledge and competencies into equivalent course credit, saving money and expediting the degree process. Veterans also benefit from PLA, earning credit for military training that is equivalent to college courses.
2. Employer tuition assistance benefits are increasingly common
According to a 2013 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 61 percent of U.S. organizations offer a tuition assistance benefit. As organizations focus on educating their workforce, that number will certainly increase. Speak with your employer to find out how to take advantage of tuition assistance.
3. Degree programs are more flexible than ever
A common roadblock standing in the way of an adult learner and a degree are the responsibilities of adulthood. Balancing work, a family and college can be intimidating. Fortunately, higher education institutions across the country now offer programs that can be completed entirely online, through hybrid courses and with night and weekend classes.
4. Advising staff are more attuned to your needs
College advisors aren’t just for young college students. More than ever, advisors are prepared to tackle issues adults are more likely to face, such as which academic tracks can lead adult students to desired careers or how to grow within their current career path.
5. A postsecondary education will always be in demand
Our economy needs an educated workforce to meet the demands of jobs that have become increasingly complex. According to a Georgetown University report, 63 percent of jobs will require some college education by 2018. When everyone has access to higher education, the whole country benefits.
It’s a promising time for the adult learner as higher education institutions, nonprofits and employers large and small work together to help adults earn an education that can be personally and professionally rewarding.