School can be daunting; a constant stream of assignments, forced interaction, and a new schedule can intimidate someone of any age. For adults in their 50s and 60s, it can feel like an especially overwhelming prospect. Since you last attended school decades ago, you may ask questions like “how has school changed since I’ve attended?” and “should I choose online learning or traditional classroom learning?”
Those questions and many others bring up aspects that all prospective adult learners should consider. Returning to school can be made much less intimidating when planning ahead, which can be accomplished by asking certain questions and exploring the variety of opportunities offered to adults looking to further their education.
Align Your Education With Your Personal Responsibilities
We all have areas of life that take priority, specifically regarding family. This is especially the case for those in their 50s and older, who may have familial or business obligations that can’t be missed, even in regard to education. Fortunately, online classes continue to rise in popularity, with e-learning comprising an industry worth over $56 billion. Also, 77 percent of educators believe online learning is just as effective as its traditional counterpart.
Online learning may be the optimal choice for you if:
- You have a strong ability to self-motivate.
- You desire strong flexibility in regard to scheduling.
- You prefer interacting via online video rather than in-person. Both online and classroom learning involve group participation; they are just approached differently.
- You live in an area that you’re committed to and there are no nearby applicable traditional learning opportunities.
- You work full time, have familial responsibilities, and/or have a job that demands frequent travel.
- You do not have access to a car or convenient public transportation.
If you’re deciding between both formats and the attributes above do not describe you, then it’s likely worth looking into traditional classroom learning. However, many midlife adults find online learning to be an ideal solution, since they already have a significant amount of life commitments and responsibilities.
Seek Out Scholarships
Scholarships aren’t just for whiz-kid teenagers. There are many available as well for adult learners. Working moms, military members, and government workers are just a few types of people that can possibly obtain a scholarship and reduce their adult learning costs as a result. There are a surprisingly high number of scholarship opportunities available for nontraditional students. Also keep in mind career-specific scholarships, like those for people seeking medical accreditations.
Recall How to Take Tests
You’ve taken tests before, but it’s probably just been awhile. A little refresher is all one needs to get back into test-taking form, regardless of whether you’re taking them online or in a classroom, particularly by heeding the tips below:
- Get some high-quality sleep the night before. Avoid alcohol and staying out late.
- Arrive several minutes early, with an abundance of additional pens/pencils.
- Make sure your phone is off, so its noise is not disruptive to you or others.
- Take your time. It’s not a race to the finish.
- Read instructions very carefully.
- Feel free to come back to a question if you don’t know it immediately.
- Proofread all your answers and the relevant questions when you think you’re finished.
By keeping these pointers in mind, you’ll be back in tip-top test-taking form in no time.
Embrace Your Support System
Going back to school can seem intimidating to even those who have found great success in business and their personal life. Whatever your support system is – family, friends, co-workers, etc. – you should trust in them when school gets too overwhelming. Any good friend will reinforce positivity in regard to obtaining a higher education, so there’s no need to be wary when discussing it. Continuing your education as an adult learner can be a great thing that can be approached with preparedness and calmness by considering the aspects above.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a career happiness and success site. Catch her on social media and subscribe to her blog newsletter for more great tips.