|Photo: Jennifer Brady|
|Photo: Southern New Hampshire University|
If you're curious about the benefits of online learning to help you return to school while balancing full-time work and family obligations, you're not alone.
A growing number of today's college and university students are working full-time, raising families and balancing other responsibilities while working toward a degree.
According to a 2016 report from the Online Learning Consortium, 85 percent of Americans enrolled in higher education are considered non-traditional students, with 75 percent aged 25 or older. Non-traditional students often face unique roadblocks to completing their degree, according to the National Adult Learner Coalition (NALC). In fact, a 2017 NALC report found that 38 percent of higher education students with additional financial and family obligations leave school within their first year.
Ray Schroeder, director of the UPCEA Center for Online Leadership, said these numbers are not surprising.
|Photo: Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning|
Adult learners often have less time, less flexibility in their schedules and receive fewer financial aid dollars than their 18-year-old college student counterparts, Schroeder said. Throw family obligations into the mix, and completing a degree can seem impossible.
However, Schroeder said there are many advantages of online classes, from increased flexibility to a more personalized learning experience, that can help improve educational attainment rates for adult learners.
1. Online learning offers more flexible scheduling than traditional campus-based programs.
If you're considering returning to school while balancing full-time work and family obligations, you're probably wondering how you'll find time for classroom lectures, studying and projects. For adult learners in particular, flexible scheduling is one of the top benefits of online learning.
Many online degree programs offer students 24/7 access to learning material, email access to instructors and online tutors, and student message boards to ensure you can learn whenever you have time - whether that's early in the morning, late at night, or on your lunch break.
"Older students do not often have the means or inclination to move to a university campus," Schroeder said. "Accessing online learning opportunities gives them the freedom to schedules classes around their lives, rather than their lives around their classes."
Source: Southern New Hampshire University