Going back to college as an adult learner may seem intimidating. But rather than focusing completely on the challenges, adults learners should give equal weight to the benefits older college students have in terms of work and life experience.

The skills and knowledge adult learners gain through work, military service, and life experience serve them well when they go back to college to finish their degrees. And with a wealth of online graduate programs available, adult learners also benefit from innovative virtual classroom technology that makes earning a degree more convenient than ever before.

Bachelor’s Programs for Working Adults

Growth in online learning is one of the main drivers behind the surge in adult learners returning to college, n estimated 40 percent of all college students are now over the age of 25.

Who are they? In an interview with NPR, author Rebecca Klein-Collins, who has written a book about adult learners, said they come from many walks of life and have a variety of reasons they did not earn a degree right after high school.

Some got started jobs out of high school and could not afford to quit and go back to college. Some entered the military, where they received technical training and leadership experience. In some instances they started raising a family.

“These are all people who are really good candidates for going back to school,” Klein-Collins said.

Tips For Adults Going Back to College

Despite the advantages experience and training give them, many adult learners worry about managing the transition into a college degree program. Fortunately, with the number of adults going back to college, there’s plenty of advice available on successfully returning to school and earning a degree. For example, the Indeed Career Guide offers smart tips for adults going back to college.

Know the Reason Why

When a person knows why they chose a certain path, it makes it easier to commit and succeed. That certainly applies to those entering bachelor’s degree programs for working adults. The reasons range from moving into management and making more money to achieving a long-held educational goal. In addition to motivation, this also helps adult students focus on the courses they need to reach their goals.

Make Use of Skills

Adult learners have a clear advantage over younger students in that they have picked up professional expertise and valuable life experience. In addition to knowledge about an industry, older students also tend to have better communication, time management, and effective teamwork skills.

Build a Strong Community

In many universities, adult learners will have little problem finding others like them. They can strengthen their bonds with them by joining online study groups and working on projects together. Also, the better a student gets to know their academic advisor, the more an advisor can help them on their educational journey in areas such as choosing classes and preparing for a career after graduation.

Explore All Financial Options

Financial aid, including loans, grants, and scholarships, is available for all students. But students who actively search for aid typically receive the most. Every student, adult or otherwise, should start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Other options include:

  • Current employers who may offer financial aid for education as a job benefit
  • Scholarships for working adults and those who transfer credits into a program
  • Tuition help for military veterans and current service members
  • Low-interest student loans

How Marian University Supports Adult Learners

In the NPR interview, Klein-Collins points out that hundreds – maybe even thousands – of colleges are not set up well for adult learners. Marian University took steps long ago to ensure the school supports working adults who decide to return to college.

Support for Adult Learners

Marian University offers adult learners a generous transfer credit policy. Transfer students seeking admission must have at least a 2.0 GPA. The university considers transfer credit for courses completed at schools accredited by a regional accrediting agency as recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The Registrar’s Office evaluates credits based on the quality, comparability, and appropriateness of the learning experience.

Support for Military Students

Marian University is a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium. Established in 1972, schools in the SOC commit to providing quality academic programs to military students. These include:

  • Active-duty service members
  • Veterans of all services
  • Coast Guard personnel
  • Reservist
  • Members of the National Guard
  • Family members
  • Department of Defense employees

“We’re proud of our programs that focus on helping military students easily make the transition from serving to becoming a college student,” said Christine Martin, Director of Adult and Online Admission. “We work with military students to ensure they benefit from all available financial resources. We also provide academic advice throughout their educational journey, career counseling, internship options, and training on best practices for job searches, job interviews, and creating strong resumes.”

Traditional and Online Degree Programs

Marian University offers many online degree programs. Through the school’s online MPath learning system, students can choose from more than two dozen programs that allow adult learners to earn their degrees while working and taking care of a family. They include 12 online undergraduate programs and 14 online graduate programs.

Marian University offers online programs in 4-week, 7-week, and 15-week course lengths, depending on the student’s major. Courses several times throughout the year, providing even more flexibility for adult learners.

Going back to college to earn a degree is a smart choice for working adults who want to earn more money and qualify for higher-level jobs. Marian University offers all the support adult learners need to succeed in online degree programs.