Common Concerns of Adult Learners, Addressed

Every adult learner is different, but many of them share common concerns about their ability to handle going to college while also holding down a job. Some fear they will not be able to do it.

The good news is that they can! Thousands of adult learners have done so, and they each offer a real-world example of how it is possible to succeed when entering an online degree program as a working adult.

One of those students is Bryan Cortez, who graduated from Florida Tech with a bachelor’s degree in aviation management.

“I’m proud to say that I did it with four kids at home, while coaching T-ball, being in the Navy reserves, working full-time, all at the same time,” Cortez said. “And when people say they don’t have time to do it, I can look at them and say, ‘You’ve got time. You can find time.’”

Common Concerns From Adult Learners

Previous students also offer assurance that as an adult learner with questions and concerns, you are not alone.

“Quite honestly, I was initially terrified of taking courses online since I had no idea what to expect,” said Florida Tech grad Tiffani Smith. “It had been 22 years since I last completed homework assignments or studied for a test.”

Smith went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology.

So, while concerns are to be expected, there’s not a reason to let them stop you from earning a college degree. Here are some frequent questions from adult learners considering an online degree program.

Will I Have The Time?

One of the major advantages of online degree programs is that they allow you to schedule study time around your professional and personal schedule. You don’t need to take the time to drive to a campus to go to class. You just need an internet connection and a computer.

Another skill that will help you in an online course is time management. Online courses are perfect for adult learners because they are geared to independent people who manage their time.

Trish Thai Hien Cunningham graduated with an MSIT in Cybersecurity. She said that she knows what adult learners are thinking because “I had the same doubts.”

“Do I have time for schoolwork? Yes, you do,” she said. “For the online courses, it’s one class per eight weeks on a rolling schedule. I studied and did classwork after the kids were in bed, which allowed me to really focus with no distractions.”

Will I Be Able to Balance School, Work and Family?

Those time management skills will help you balance all aspects of your life as you move through the degree program. Many think they cannot accomplish everything they need to, but it’s possible if you approach your education with a plan that incorporates the balance you seek. In online learning, you are more in control than you are with traditional on-campus education.

“The decision for me to enroll in an online program was a risky choice,” said Catrina Hopkins. She was concerned about staying dedicated to school while also maintaining her professional career.

“The ability to not have to attend a physical class allowed me to continue to grow at my company, but to also continue earning that degree that I very much wanted. I think I made the best choice and would do it again.”

Will I Be Able to Navigate the Online Classroom?

Technology used to scare off many adult learners. However, that’s no longer the case as people of all ages have gotten used to using technology in their professional and personal lives.

That said, you don’t have to be a computer whiz or even great with a smartphone to learn what you need to know about working with an online learning system. Matthew Donlan, MBA in Healthcare Management grad, said the “ease-of-use of Florida Tech’s online learning platform” was a nice surprise”

“The convenience of online learning was essential to me, as I have had success with online learning platforms in the past. My student services representative, Jordan, helped me navigate through any obstacles that could have presented themselves, and I felt confident that my choice to attend Florida Tech was the right one.”

Am I Too Old to Learn?

It’s just the opposite. Even the most educated people who earned college degrees at an early age continue to learn. You are also never too old to achieve your educational dreams and earn the college degree you always wanted. You carry a wealth of knowledge through experience that you might not even realize you have – your contributions will be valued.

Florida Tech grad Chuck Mullin, who earned an AA in Aviation Management, didn’t start the program until he was 46 years old. He finished with a 3.67 GPA.

“I realized I can still do whatever goal I want to accomplish through hard work,” Mullin said. “It was the first time I’ve taken an online college program. The ease of use and being able to ‘chat’ with people from all over the world made it very interesting.”

Tiffani Smith also said she was afraid of entering school because of her age.

“I didn’t want to be the ‘old lady’ in a class full of tech-savvy millennials. However, I was surprised (and delighted) by how quickly I became acclimated to the online setting, and by how pleasant it was to log on to my classes and work at my own pace,” Smith said,

She also said she was “pleasantly surprised” when she realized others in her class came from her same age group.
In fact, the majority of online students tend to be working professionals, according to Florida Tech Assistant Professor Dr. Bob Keimer, which ends up benefitting the classroom:

“I really enjoy working with online students because they’re typically older working professionals, so there’s no question about motivation; they’re working full time while earning this degree, so they know how valuable their time is. They’re dialed in and focused. Since they already have a lot of experience, the online classroom becomes a collaborative environment. It’s not a teacher telling them what to do, but rather a sharing of information.”

Will I Have Support?

Florida Tech works with all students to ensure that they have a compatible computer system and understand how to navigate the learning system. Students have a dedicated student services representative that helps with questions during the school year. Bryan Cortez found his student services rep “extremely helpful:”

“She helped me take difficult classes and easy classes at the same time. She helped me balance things out when I was scheduling them. She was always checking on me to make sure I was doing well. She would email me in the middle to see how my midterms were going and wish me luck, and any question I had she was right on top of emailing back just like the professors, just really quick with it. I could call her whenever and she would answer the phone.”

But what about support from family and friends? Most students learn that once they state their goal and begin pursuing it, they will get a lot of support from family and friends who are impressed they are going after their dreams. You can not only achieve your own goals, but provide inspiration to others, as well.

These common concerns are understandable, but they shouldn’t stop someone from pursuing higher education. It’s a matter of making a commitment – and overcoming your fears.

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