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Adults Planning to Go to College Need Special Guidance

Adults Planning to Go to College Need Special Guidance

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Learning Tips

Enrolling in brick-and-mortar colleges is often a semi-annual process. Miss the enrollment cut-off date and you will have to wait until the following semester to enroll. At APU and AMU, where online classes are open throughout the year, students have monthly opportunities to enroll.

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For most students heading to college, there are books, magazines, videos and annual listings of the “best” institutions help them choose the school that is the right fit for them.

As National Public Radio’s Elissa Nadworny notes, “There are hundreds of books about picking the best college. But let’s face it: Most of them are written for high schoolers.”

However, 40 percent of college students today are 25 years old or older “and many have kids, full-time jobs or both,” she says. That’s a familiar area for university students who are either active-duty military or retired servicemembers.

Some Enrollment Procedures Are Universal for Adult Learners

Nevertheless, there are enrollment procedures that are universal, even if your high school graduation is becoming a distant memory. Nadworny cites a recently published book, “Never Too Late,” by Rebecca Klein-Collins as one of the few age-appropriate guides for adults thinking about going to college. Klein-Collins is the associate vice president of research at the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

The book covers several vital questions:

  • What should I study?
  • How can I afford the time and money required to get a college degree?
  • How do I compare schools?

Never Too Late even has rankings of the best colleges for adults. The book also includes tips on how to cultivate support at home and exercises to help prospective students recognize the skills they should have, such as time management and attention to detail.

Three Tips for Adults Thinking of Enrolling in College

In an NPR interview with Nadworny, Klein-Collins enumerated three things that adults thinking of enrolling in college need to know:

  1. Even though a family member might have gone to a certain college or university, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the right choice for you. Certainly ask people you know for guidance, but keep in mind that you need to do your own research.
  2. Find a school that acknowledges who you are at this stage in your life. That can manifest itself in a number of different ways. It can mean a school that is not expecting you to drop everything and enroll full-time; these schools understand that you have work and family obligations. They can help you design a program that fits into your busy lifestyle.
  3. Look for schools that offer a “prior learning assessment.” This is a method for evaluating what a student has learned from work, life or military experience.

Franklin University’s Going Back to College Blog offers some valuable suggestions for adult students who are attending college, perhaps for the first time.

“Like working from home instead of the office, going back to college as an adult requires adapting to a new environment. Create a comfortable, well-lit designated study space that’s all your own,” the blog advises. “Not only will it keep your study time separate from your home or work life, it will serve as a physical reminder to others to let you focus without interruption or distraction.”

As Klein-Collins notes, “In an ideal world, we would have a whole network of career and education advisors available to every American. And that’s something that’s really needed, but we don’t have that right now. The more ways we can provide adults with guides or tips or resources to help with their decision-making, the better — because it’s so important to avoid costly mistakes.”

At APU and AMU, admissions representatives and financial aid advisors are available to advise prospective students about courses, degrees, financial aid and prior learning assessments. To reach an academic advisor, email counseling@apus.edu or call 877-755-2787.

Learn more about our degree programs at American Public University.

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