The Guide: A Resource for Going to College as an Adult provides a detailed explanation of what to expect from online learning and how to choose a program that’s right for you. You’ll learn about different types of programs; the technology that’s required; financing available for seniors; the possibility of transferring credits or getting credits for life experience; and how to navigate program rankings and accreditation status.
Whether you’ve taken courses in the recent past, or you haven’t been to school in decades, we have tips and tools to assist you in reaching your learning goals. Check our our resource center here.
Also – for more information on older adults and higher education and tuition waivers review A Senior Citizen Guide For College.
You probably use eMail to stay in touch with family and friends, and maybe you even use Skype so you can video chat. eLearning —also commonly called ‘online learning’ or ‘distance education’—is similar. Classes, assignments, tests and lectures are conducted via the internet.
Sometimes lectures are live over the web in an event called a ‘webinar’ and at other times, you can review a series of documents or prerecorded lectures at a time that best suits your schedule. And even though a class may be typically held ‘outside of a traditional classroom,’ students are graded on participation, assignments and examinations. In most cases, you’ll be able to communicate and interact with course leaders, teachers, and other students through your computer or a connected mobile device.
To better understand what eLearning is all about and prepare for your adult learning experience, take some time to look through our curated collection of materials and links.
Just because you’re over 55 doesn’t mean your college days are behind you. Seniors can often continue their education by attending college at lower tuitions or, in some cases, for free. Nearly 60% of all accredited US universities offer tuition waivers for older adults, according to U.S. News & World Report. And institutions like MIT, Stanford, and Yale allow seniors to audit select courses online free of charge.
But it’s not just Ivy League schools, many universities wave online course fees for state residents above a certain age. But don’t fret if you’re interested in a program that comes with a fee; you’ll find that one of the nice things about eLearning is that it’s typically less costly than traditional study. Plus, senior learners can take advantage of financial aid programs just like any other college student. The eLearning institution you’re thinking of will have extensive financial aid information online, and many have customer support chat services so you can ask questions while you’re on the website.
There are many scholarships and grants available that have no age limit, so make sure you ask about those. Often – just like when going to restaurants and the movies – Senior discounts aren’t advertised. So ask! You’ve earned it.
Regardless of your age, you can qualify for the Federal Pell Grant by filing an FAFSA form (FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student AID). If qualified, older, non-traditional students may also be automatically eligible for supplemental grants at both the federal and state levels with no extra forms to fill out. With one application you can qualify for all grants available to seniors. For example, The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act gives $1,000 scholarships to seniors, aged 55 and over, that contribute a minimum of 350 hours of community service hours to the program.
Whatever the costs, remember to ask the IRS about their senior citizen deduction for higher education before submitting your federal taxes. It has a lifetime maximum of $10,000. Sweet.
For comprehensive guide of colleges in all states that provide reduced or free tuition for senior citizens, look at A Senior Citizen Guide for College.
Being a student in the school of life means you probably have a lot of experience and learning outside of a classroom. And many universities will give you credit for the knowledge you’ve already acquired. This may include:
- Learning gained from full-time or part-time work experience
- Independent study
- Military service
- Learning from community service and other voluntary work experiences,
- Seminars, workshops, certifications and other experiences resulting in clear learning outcomes
- Travel study
Institutions refer to these examples as experiential learning, and they may warrant academic credit. A Prior Learning: 5-Minute College Credit Assessment (PLA) will determine if there is a match between the skills and knowledge you gained and the courses you’re interested in attending.
When you go to the university’s website, look for the phrases “credit transfer” or “credit for prior learning”. Their procedures should be clearly stated.
Once again, don’t be afraid to ask about these types of programs. They can help you save time and money by reducing tuition costs and allowing you to take advanced level courses, skipping typical prerequisite courses.
Once an application is evaluated, the institution will determine the amount of college credit you would earn, but note that institutions may assess learning and award credit differently, and some colleges won’t accept other institution’s evaluation of prior learning. Visit Learning Counts, a program of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, for more information: http://www.learningcounts.org/
If you’ve read this far, you’re obviously interested in pursuing an online education.
With active class discussions and interactions online, some older students find that they get to know instructors and classmates better online than they might have in a classroom. Taking a class online might take some getting used to, but with the right mix of research and enthusiasm, you’re well on your way. Since you now have the time and interest in learning, the programs available to you are endless. When you use our search tool, be sure to think about the topics that you want to browse and begin your search.