Continuing education opens the door to advancement and career stability for those who are willing to make the necessary sacrifices. Most adults who begin down the continuing education path have great intentions; however, some begin to stray from the path because of distractions. The way to avoid these distractions is to plan, communicate, research, and set aside dedicated times for class.
These steps are particularly important for the online education learner. Planning for continuing education requires more than simply enrolling in a program and start classes. Many people who fall by the wayside in online education do so because they do not allow time to complete classwork or fail to select an appropriate program. Follow 10 tips for adults going back to school to ensure you do not fall by the wayside.
Things to Do For Success in Online Education
The following are key things everyone enrolled in online continuing education must focus on for success.
- Talk to the course instructors via e-mail, online chats, and by phone if necessary. It is important to connect the course with a human instructor to make it personal and not an abstract thing.
- Participate in online discussions, e-mail classmates, and become an active member of the class. This should happen regardless if participation is part of the course grade because the course becomes real.
- Contact the instructor to ensure you fully understand all course requirements and assignments. Do not assume anything, because assuming is the path to dropping out.
- Start assignments early, especially those that require research. Collecting resources for assignments in advance is the path to a good grade. Knowing how you learn is critical for success with assignments and course completion.
- Prepare a calendar indicating when all course projects are due, especially if enrolled in multiple courses. The key here is to also assign a start date on the calendar for big assignments and projects, to avoid procrastination.
- Be organized! Have a place where all study materials and the computer can remain without being disturbed by others. Keep copies of all assignments and communications with an instructor for reference.
Things to Not Do for Success in Online Education
The following are common pitfalls that reach out and grab the best of students in online education.
- Do not hesitate to contact the school for anything. Questions about advising, financial situations, or anything else on your mind. Never assume problems will work themselves out, they do not. Be proactive!
- Do not forget to use all available resources the school offers for completing assignments. Most libraries will mail books to you and find resources from other libraries for you through interlibrary loan programs.
- If there is a college or university near you visit their library to conduct research, even if you are not enrolled in the school. Library doors are open to all on school campuses, they do not check to see if you are enrolled. However, you will not be able to check anything out from the library.
- Do not plagiarize someone else’s work, cite the work. Course instructors can easily check your work through free programs like Copyscape and a host of other anti-plagiarism software programs.
- Do not purchase term papers and other academic papers, most will never pass a plagiarism test.
Making Connections in Online Education
To allow continuing education to open the door to success, anyone enrolled in continuing education must be willing to dedicate the time and resources necessary to succeed. Preparing a continuing education action plan, which covers everything from beginning research to find a program through graduation, will help open those doors to advancement career stability. Planning avoids online education pitfalls and is critical to success.
Growing Demand for Continuing Education
Adults seeking to improve or strengthen their education background are enrolling in continuing education programs in greater numbers according to the University Continuing Education Association. To meet this growing demand, colleges and universities are developing an increased number of continuing education programs. These programs are offered through traditional classroom attendance and online distance learning venues.
One reason is the trend for an increased number of adults, who graduated from college or high school and entered the workforce immediately after graduation, now enrolling in continuing education programs. This trend has resulted in certificate degrees, associate degrees, bachelor degrees, and advanced degrees becoming part-time programs. Young adults are often unwilling to give up full-time employment and enroll in full-time education programs. Additionally, these same young adults find that many employers often offer education assistance for completing continuing education programs related to their career field.
A second reason for the increased number of continuing education programs being offered is a result of the more baby boomers reaching retirement age. Many of these baby boomers desire to enroll in continuing education programs to seek education qualifications for a second career or gain knowledge of new and different areas of interest related to new hobbies or volunteer programs as lifelong learners.
Continuing Education Programs Meeting Growing Demand
Continuing education programs are offered by most colleges and universities today to meet the growing demand. Here are a few sample programs designed to meet the needs of adults seeking continuing education:
New York University offers a 42 credit master’s program through both on-campus and online courses to accommodate the work and travel schedules of adults, most of whom work in human resources full time.
The George Washington University’s Professional Master’s Degree in Molecular Biotechnology is part of a growing trend in Master of Science programs. The degree allows students to pursue advanced training in science while developing workplace skills valued by employers. This type of master’s degree is not a stepping-stone to a Ph.D., rather it has been designed to meet specific needs highlighted by the National Research Council in their report, “Science Professionals: Master’s Education for a Competitive World”.
The College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a Master of Education in Educational Policy Studies with an emphasis on teaching critical thinking skills. The degree is designed for teachers returning for professional development and advanced degrees; however, the courses are open to other students as well. The program offers courses both on-campus and online.
Evaluating Continuing Education Programs
Adults going back to school need to take full advantage of learning environments that boost career options. Meeting current or future employer expectations is critical for improving and strengthening an education foundation. How to Evaluate Continuing Education Programs offers suggestions for questioning specific characteristics of continuing education programs when evaluating a program.
There is a growing demand for continuing education for adults of all ages and reasons for enrolling in these programs. Whatever your reason: strengthening job skills, entering a new career field, or just seeking the information as a lifelong learner; there is an abundant supply of continuing education programs to meet your needs.