These days, there’s no reason why your higher education path has to end in your early twenties. It’s becoming increasingly common for people to go back to college or university to do a second degree or a graduate program in their thirties, forties, fifties, and even older. This might be as part of a move to change careers, get a promotion, or simply for the opportunity to immerse yourself in a subject that fascinates you.
However, at the same time, many adults are apprehensive about returning to formal education because they have an established career, young children, or other responsibilities on their plate. That’s understandable – juggling all these different aspects of your life can be hard. If that sounds like you, the good news is that there is a solution: online learning. Want the details? Keep reading to find out more.
What Degree Subjects Can You Study Online?
Online degrees enable you to achieve a formal qualification from the comfort of your own home and are available in a very broad selection of subjects. This includes everything from taking an online bachelor’s degree in English if you enjoy language and literature to studying an online masters degree in education if you’re interested in leadership and management in the education sector. The possibilities are almost endless, so you’re sure to find a program that interests you.
How is an Online Degree Taught?
When you study for an online degree, you’ll receive the same top-quality teaching as you would if you attended in-person classes on campus – it’s just that the delivery method is slightly different. You’ll be learning in a virtual environment rather than a physical one, using innovative right software and technology to fulfill your learning and complete assignments.
The specifics of course materials and teaching methods will vary depending on the university you enroll with but might include live and prerecorded lectures, live seminars using video call software like Zoom, interactive quizzes, discussion forums, and audio materials – all of which are in addition to traditional learning resources, such as books and online journal articles. As with a conventional on-campus course, you’ll also have essays and other assignments to complete along the way.
In terms of communication, you’ll keep in regular contact with your professors and other academic staff members via email, phone call, video chat, and instant messaging, and still have access to all the educational, careers, and pastoral support services available through your chosen institution.
Why is Online Learning Beneficial for Mature Students?
Distance learning is an ideal option for mature students for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a more flexible study method; with the exception of live classes, you will have the freedom to access your course materials at your convenience, which enables you to draw up a study schedule that fits around any existing commitments you may have. Whether it’s first thing in the morning before going to the office, on your lunch break, or in the evening after the kids are in bed, you can do your learning whenever it suits you.
As such, online degrees are perfect for older students who are already embedded in a job they don’t want to quit or who have family obligations that prevent them from attending classes in person. You also have a much wider selection of colleges to choose from with distance learning because you’re not restricted to locations that you can currently commute to or would be willing to relocate to – perfect if you have kids in school.
Another benefit mature students who work during their degree can gain from online study is that they can put what they’re learning into practice immediately. Rather than having to wait until you graduate and manage to find highest paying jobs, you can implement your new knowledge and skills in your current role without delay. As an added bonus, this can help cement your learning and boost your grades.
Similarly, if your job is relevant to the subject you want to study, choosing an online degree might make your employer more willing to cover the cost of your tuition. Many companies run schemes where they pay your fees if you agree to continue working for them for a specified amount of time after you graduate. Online degrees enable you to work while studying, so you might be eligible for these types of company-funded schemes without affecting your job. Plus, you can demonstrate to your boss that earning a higher qualification will benefit your workplace right from the start – which helps persuade them to grant you the educational investment!
Lastly, you will also enjoy all the same benefits as younger students who take online degrees. For example, your IT skills will get a boost thanks to the cutting-edge software you’ll be using in your virtual classroom. In addition, distance learning can be cheaper because you don’t have to fork out money on commuting to campus, renting accommodation, and similar additional costs.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Distance Learning?
To begin with, you can rest assured that choosing to study for an online degree won’t count against you in the eyes of employers and businesses. While historically, there may have been some skepticism about the value of distance study, it’s now widely accepted and considered equal to campus learning. The standard of teaching is identical, and the work you produce must meet the same criteria in order for you to pass and be awarded your degree.
This is not to say that the study experience is exactly the same, and there are some differences that you should weigh up before deciding whether online learning is the right choice for you personally. For example, the fact that you won’t be physically on campus means that you won’t be able to join sports clubs, attend house parties, or participate in other types of student social activities in person. Therefore, if you want the traditional college experience, you might be left unsatisfied if you opt for the online route.
Having said that, online learning does not have to be antisocial! You can still make valuable connections with the other students on your course; it’s just that you’ll be chatting via video and networking online rather than in person. Many mature students are perfectly happy with this situation because their primary goal is to enhance their knowledge and boost their qualifications – not play beer pong!
Finally, doing a distance learning course does typically involve more self-discipline than a campus program because you are in charge of your own schedule. It will be up to you to make sure that you find the time to go over all your course materials and complete your assignments by the given deadlines. This extra independence may well be something you appreciate, though – and plus, it will help you improve your organization and time management skills alongside your subject knowledge!