Chronologically enhanced students are flocking to college in ever-increasing numbers. According to NBC News, only 60% of college students were under the age of 25 in 2009.
Government statistics revealed that in 2018, approximately 12.3 million college students were under the age of 25. They reported that about 7.6 million college students were over 25 years old or older.
The National Center for Education Statistics predicts a significant increase in the number of students over 25 enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities. This should come as no surprise to anyone.
Not only are the “Baby Boomers” finding the time to pursue or further their college education, they often are more financially able to do so now than they were when graduating from high school. People are living longer. Many retirees wish to earn or finish degrees now they are retired and have the time to do so.
A number of students wish to advance their careers or to actually shift into a new career path altogether. There is a growing number of students who simply wish to learn new things. The fear of dementia in their older years drives some to class as a way to improve their memory.
What do colleges think of chronologically enhanced students?
College admission committees have learned that having a diverse student population benefits everyone. The many life experiences of the chronologically enhanced students bring a new perspective to the class and the resultant discussions are often lively. The more engaged the students in a classroom setting, online or on campus, the more students learn.
There are quite a number of colleges offering online courses to students of all ages in all walks of life. Each has a catalog describing their courses and what certificates and degrees they offer. In addition to flexible learning and a personalized course of study, students benefit from affordable tuition. Some classes may be completely free of charge in certain circumstances.
So, Just How Does Online College Work?
Many courses are offered in a manner that allows you to view lectures and participate on your schedule. This flexibility is often what makes it possible for working students to attend college. There is also flexibility in location.
You can actually live on one coast and take classes from a school on the other coast, if you so desire. Some of the most highly respected Ivy League schools on the east coast offer online courses, a few of them free.
Online courses most frequently utilize learning management systems (LMS) that allow for student participation. Most courses on LMS enable you to view lectures and participate on your schedule, not theirs. This flexibility is often what makes it possible for working students to attend college.
What do I need to know about Learning Management Systems?
Canvas and Blackboard are two of the most popular LMS used across the country. However, there are several others used successfully as well. These LMS allow professors to manage course materials, make assignments, administer tests and interact with students.
These systems require an internet connection and work directly in your browser. Some programs allow you to choose your browser and others may require a specific one. Firefox and Chrome seem to be the more popular choices. Both of them can be downloaded for free.
Course materials provided may include:
- Online textbooks
- Discussion Boards
- Chat programs
- Email for communication between students and professors or among themselves
- Tutorials on the use of LMS and online courses in general
Obviously, you’ll need access to a computer with an Internet connection. High-speed connections are better but not always required. However, most online courses do have a recommended minimum speed for connections.
If you plan on taking classes from varied locations or on traveling while taking a class, a laptop is your best option. A few colleges even provide them included in the tuition.
In addition to the flexibility of the class schedule, there is also the flexibility of location. You can actually live on one coast and take classes from a school on the other coast, if you so desire. Some of the most highly respected Ivy League schools on the east coast offer online courses, a few of them free.
Besides the online part, what is required for chronologically enhanced students to succeed?
Regardless of where you take your classes, online or on campus, you’ll need to devote some time to your studies. It is best to dedicate some time each day, if possible, to stay on schedule.
There is more to college than lectures. You may be assigned reading and homework to complete. No two courses are identical. Each professor will have different requirements.
Being self-directed and able to stay focused are important traits of successful online students. A carefully planned and realistic schedule is one of the most important elements of your path to success.
This is especially true for chronologically enhanced students as they often have family and work responsibilities to balance with school.
Speaking of success, some schools with a physical campus offer the option for online students to participate in their graduation ceremonies. Occasionally, those students who attend those schools that do not offer this option organize and hold their own celebration.
Many online students connect via their school Chat rooms, WebEx, or Zoom. These connections often lead to friendships, mentors, and professional references for years to come.
Is There Anything Special to Look For in an Online College or are They All the Same?
The most important thing is to make sure the school is accredited. This means that the school has been evaluated and approved by a regional or national accreditation board.
Then, if finances are an issue, look for a school with a free online college option. Many will offer reduced tuition for the chronologically enhanced student and a few are totally free.
Some have additional services specifically designed for older students. Naturally, you wish to limit your searches to schools that offer classes and programs of specific interest to you.
Can I Really Attend College for Free?
Maybe. However, you must qualify and apply to the right schools. The number of colleges and universities offering discounted or free tuition to senior citizens is continually growing.
All fifty states have one or more schools that do so. One example is the University of Alaska. If you are old enough to receive full Social Security benefits, you may attend tuition-free.
Several states provide discounted or free tuition for students aged 60 or older. A few states use age 55 as their age for tuition waivers.
Of course, like all schools, course selections may be limited by allowed class size and when you apply. Timing can be critical.
If you are even considering taking an online college course, I highly recommend you start evaluating schools sooner rather than later. Eligibility for online college degrees, especially those designed for chronologically enhanced students, can vary greatly from school to school.
This is even more true for those seeking tuition-free courses. I suggest you start looking at schools in your own state first.
If you happen to live in the state of Tennessee, be sure to check out: https://www.tnreconnect.gov.
The story of one chronologically enhanced student who found Reconnect to be helpful is shared in the article: https://onlinecollegelife.info/is-now-the-time-for-you-to-attend-college/
For those who choose to attend a school that does not offer reduced or free tuition options, you must pay standard tuition rates. However, all is not lost .If your financial situation isn’t great, you can apply for financial aid at any age. There are scholarships available from various organizations based on need.
What if I only want to take a few classes in topics of interest?
Then MOOCs and Open Courseware are great options for you! There is a global movement to provide online courses via the Internet to anyone wishing to learn.
The Open Education Consortium and well-respected universities like Harvard and MIT offer these types of courses. Basically, all that is required to qualify is an interest in learning and a computer with an Internet connection.
MOOCs are massive open online classes. These courses are usually free. They are crafted to reach as many people as possible. They are most often taught by highly respected experts in their fields. If you do not need a degree and are primarily interested in expanding your knowledge, these are hard to beat.
There is something available for almost everyone. If you have the desire to continue your education and to learn, now is the time to take the first step.
Here is a story about an amazing woman who got her college degree in her 90s. https://onlinecollegelife.info/never-say-never/
Photos courtesy of Pixabay