December 3, 2023

Attending School as an Adult Learner: What to Remember

Author: Online Learning Tips Staff Writer
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Start a degree program at American Public University.

By Christina Gilbert
Admissions Representative, APUS

Have you ever felt like you were the only one your age thinking about going back to school? Returning to school as an online adult learner can be difficult without the right knowledge and tools.

However, it does have its advantages. You’ll often find people in your own age group in the online classroom and your real-world experience is helpful for other students. Also, you can bring a unique, first-person perspective to historic events that have occurred during your lifetime.

But there are three important things you should remember if you plan to return to school as an adult learner.

#1: You Are Not Alone

One of my all-time favorite movies is Adam Sandler’s “Billy Madison.” In this movie, Billy returns to grade school at the age of 27 to prove to his father that he is not a fool. But once Billy goes back to class after so long, he feels alone, scared and embarrassed.

Many adult learners feel the same way Billy did. I certainly did.

As a mother of three, a wife and a full-time admissions advisor, I thought returning to school at my age was nearly impossible. Most of my college friends had pursued their master’s degrees directly after their bachelor’s.

I, on the other hand, was ready to jump ship and get out of school. I never imagined myself at the age of 33 returning to pursue one of my lifelong educational goals.

Experiencing feelings of doubt and apprehension are normal for adult learners. But once you grow accustomed to taking classes, writing papers and discussing topics in forum posts, those feelings fade.

#2: You’ll Need Flexibility as an Adult Learner

Not many adult learners have the time to go to class, work full-time and juggle whatever else life throws at them. However, learning in an online classroom setting has quickly become normal as technology improves over time.

Online learning was created with the adult learner in mind. Our classes are run on an asynchronous format, so you can log in and do your schoolwork on your own schedule.

There is no specific time each day when you have to “attend” class. Instead, you work according to weekly deadlines set by your instructor.

#3: Advisors Are Ready to Help You

As an admissions advisor, I help adult learners to achieve the goal of finishing their degree, whether it’s an associate, bachelor’s or a master’s degree.

The entire admissions team is familiar with the everyday challenges that our students face. We are here to put your mind at ease and assure you that, no matter what issue may arise during your education, we are here to help you. We will get you on the right path to prepare you for that new job opening at your workplace or to complete an educational goal you thought was way out of reach.

So, do you still think that returning to school is impossible? You might be surprised to learn that, with work and dedication, earning a degree is not as hard as you think.

About the Author

Christina Gilbert has been an admissions representative at American Public University System since August 2018. Prior to that, she held assistant manager positions at Yankee Candle and Sheetz, and was the Childcare Supervisor for the Board of Childcare in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Christina holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Frostburg State University.

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