Top Online Degrees (And Why They Make Sense For Older Adults)

Take a moment to consider what a college degree could mean for your life. A college degree is an incredible accomplishment, and the benefits of a great education are no less substantial for older adults. A degree can mean new job opportunities, new challenges, and a greater sense of fulfillment.

That might explain why older students are heading back to school in greater numbers — in 2020, 9.6 million non-traditional students are expected to head to class.

For many of those people, that doesn’t mean going to a physical classroom. Online classes are convenient and affordable alternative to on-site classwork. Whether you’re striving to maintain relevance in the workforce, fulfill a lifelong ambition, or simply keep your mind active, there’s never been a better time to get a degree online.

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Online Degrees Can Open Up New Career Opportunities

If you love your career, you might not want to rush towards retirement. Here’s the good news: A degree can help you keep your job or start a second career.

According to the AARP, older adults are more likely to work past the age of 65 if they have advanced degrees. Factors like age discrimination can affect prospects for seniors, but highly educated individuals can stay relevant in the workforce for much longer.

To employers, a degree obtained through online coursework is just as valuable as a degree obtained through face-to-face classes, provided that the degree comes from an accredited institution with an established name. Today, many highly respected institutions offer degree courses online, including Penn State, the University of Florida, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Online Classes Are A Flexible Alternative to In-Class Coursework

To take an online course, you’ll need access to a computer with an internet connection, but you won’t need a superpowered laptop or the latest smartphone. That’s a key point to consider if you’re apprehensive about online courses — you don’t need to be especially tech-savvy to get a degree, provided that you’re dedicated to the process and ready to learn.

You can typically take classes on your own time, interacting with professors and other students via text. Most online degree programs aren’t limited by geography, so you don’t need to travel extensively to do your work. In other words, you don’t need to put your life on hold while you complete your degree.

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Online degree programs also allow older adults with mobility challenges, hearing issues, or vision impairments to participate fully with their classes. Health issues won’t stop you from working towards your goals, and some research indicates that lifelong learning can actually help to keep seniors healthy. One 2012 study found that seniors were less likely to suffer from depression and other cognitive disorders when engaged in academic programs. Active learning — the process of continuing to learn into your golden years — is a vital part of a healthy aging process. For Older Adults, A Degree Can Be A Lifelong Ambition

Maybe you’ve always wanted to get a degree, but life got in the way. You had to support your family, you couldn’t afford tuition, or you simply didn’t have the time to devote yourself to your education.

You’re not alone. In one 2018 survey, 60 percent of adults said that they’d considered returning to school to complete a degree or certificate. Of those people, 72 percent had completed some college work or held associate degrees. Many were seeking their first bachelor degrees.

For those non-traditional students, online courses solve some of the main problems associated with higher education. The programs are flexible, engaging, and manageable, though they’re not always easy; after all, these are real college courses, taught by renowned professors in a structured environment.

Still, research shows that mature students aren’t any less capable of completing their degrees than their younger peers. In fact, one 2017 study found that “lifetime engagement in cognitively stimulating activities can promote academic success in older adults.” To put that another way: If you keep your brain engaged, you might actually find your degree work easier in your later years.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to pursue a degree as an adult. The college experience means something different to everyone, but given the high quality of online degree courses, there’s never been a better time to get started.

Every academic journey starts with a single step. For seniors willing to make the commitment, online degree programs provide a straightforward way to take that step with confidence.

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