For many, the flexibility of online programs is paramount to completing their education.
Jennifer Moreau was an operations specialist in the U.S. Coast Guard working 12-hour days, as well as a mom of two young kids, when she started taking classes at City University of Seattle, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She had her sights set on advancing to the Coast Guard’s Investigative Service unit.
As a busy mom, Moreau found that the flexibility of taking programs online was paramount to completing her education. Here are four tactics adult learners use to succeed in finding the right balance between work, family and college.
Keep your schedule flexible to maximize productivity
Busy parents and employees who may not have set, predictable schedules can benefit from taking online classes or a mixed-mode of online and in-person classes. With recent advances in video conferencing technology and online collaboration tools, it feels more organic now than ever to engage with classmates and instructors virtually.
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Benefits of virtual classrooms include the convenience of being able to access coursework from anywhere, access to a bigger pool of classes, as well as flexibility in scheduling and learning.
Take advantage of tax and financial benefits
Many individuals assume that because they are adults who are going back to school later in life, there is no financial aid available for them. That is far from the truth! There is actually no age limit for receiving federal aid — such as grants, loans and work-study programs. There are also scholarships out there for adult learners or those from the military.
Additionally, employers often will pay for continuing education, with many funding entire degrees.
Also make sure not to miss out on tax breaks available for returning students, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. Plus, interest on student loans can be deducted.
Look into getting credits for knowledge and experience you already have
At educational institutions that cater to adult professionals, there are often performance-based programs that allow students to earn credit using the skills they have already developed in the working world.
Generally, to qualify for credits students are evaluated through assessments. While undergoing this sort of evaluation, students are supported by a faculty facilitator and proceed as quickly as they would like to through the program.
In a similar vein, there is also the Prior Learning Assessment Program at City University. In the PLA program, students can fast-track their degree attainment by earning up to 45 undergraduate credits if they can demonstrate acquired knowledge equivalent to that learned in a college-level course on the topic.
Let your loved ones know what your goals are
Going back to school will take up a lot of time — which can be difficult for students who have a lot of outside responsibilities, such as children and full-time jobs. It’s important to let family, friends, colleagues, as well as instructors, know about the upcoming challenge so that they can help create uninterrupted time and space needed to study and complete coursework. After all, most people want to help — they just need to know what is going on first.
“I got so much help from the professors, especially with how hectic my job and home life is,” Moreau says. “During one spring, I was taking two classes and my due date for my daughter was at the end of the quarter. I had four papers and a baby due at the same time, so my professors worked with me to restructure my workload.”
City University of Seattle is accredited through the doctoral level. It is dedicated to serving the working adult and transfer student and and has been ranked in the top 50 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in the nation six consecutive years 2013-2018 by U.S. News & World Report.