What is the best way to go about contining my education as a working adult student?

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Answered by: Dorianne, An Expert in the Adult Education Category
Continuing education for the working adult student presents some unique challenges. Working adults wishing to change careers, or to upgrade their professional credentials in order to increase income or job satisfaction, have many options today. Armed with a logical approach, potential hurdles can be easily explored before making any monetary or time investment. Taking the time to candidly evaluate continuing educatoin options for the working adult can pay big dividends in the long run.

A hearty grasp of where a prospective, working adult student presently stands in life, compared to where they would like to be and when, is critical. Practical and honest evaluation of the current or chosen industry, or profession, is essential from the beginning. This is the point where knowledge of employment and professional trends, available options and the impact continuing education might realistically have on budget, time, lifestyle and future opportunities, should be carefully examined by the prospective working adult student.

After a proposed direction is clear, the next primary concern becomes how working adult students plan to overcome life while learning. Certainly, in our youth, higher education was most likely a simple proposition. In our late teens and early twenties our lives were probably void of mortgages, car payments or children to support. Even if the children are grown and out of the house, or if there are no children at all, working adult students probably have much more on their plates and are, thus, susceptible to distractions. This difference in life situation makes the working adult student much less able to absorb material quickly or effectively, in most cases.

For this reason, careful consideration should also be given to what type of education would fit into present life while meeting the desired educational needs, within the proposed educational budget. Suggested questions to entertain are:

Can my needs be met using a vocational or professional school?

Is online education for me or do I prefer, or need, a traditional classroom education?

Am I disciplined enough to make the most out of the more flexible online educational model?

Am I sufficiently computer savvy to make the most out of online education?

Is appropriate course content available in the time slots and using the mode of education that suits me best?

Can the desired credentials be earned with available online education options?

As a working adult student, am I able to fit the rest of my life into the available class locations, times and selected mode of education?

As a working adult student, am I able to set aside consistent time for uninterrupted course, class and study time?

As a working adult student, will I be able to maintain a healthy life balance when juggling work, school, family, recreation, sufficient rest and other responsibilities?

Is continuing education affordable?

What grants or loans are available to me and are they worth the time and effort it takes to apply and receive approval?

What is the potential return on continuing education investment (both time and money)?

While these questions are not the only ones to consider, they are a good starting point for evaluating personal continuing education goals and feasibility as a working adult student. Rigorous honesty is encouraged when assessing needs over desires as well as when considering the time, financial practicalities and eventual pay off continuing education is expected to provide. Realistic expectations are essential throughout this experience.

Excellent resources for making an informed decision can be found on the Internet. For those already engaged in a profession or industry they wish to expand upon, workplace and other industry associates, as well as professional associations, may be a superior source of information. Try taking a look at someone who is where you’d like to be. If possible, seek guidance from them. If not, garner as much information as is practical by observing their work habits, credentials and the benefits they appear to be enjoying as a result.........................

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