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What to know about online education as an older adult

Written by Ashworth College on Wednesday, 16 August 2017. Posted in Career

What to Know About Online Education as an Older Adult

Making the leap back to school can feel nerve wracking - but it doesn’t have to. You may not look or live like the typical college student from the movies, but if you are driven to advance your career or set out on a new path you are the perfect candidate for higher education. Lucky for you, online education offers seemingly infinite options for programs that won’t derail your current job, family or lifestyle.

The new "traditional" student

Older adults who decide to return to school are often referred to as "non-traditional" studentsbecause they don't fit society's typical description: the 18-24 year old, unmarried student, living on or near campus. However, today over 50 percent of students enrolled in higher education don't fit this narrow definition. So many students fall into this category that some are ditching the term "non-traditional" for the updated label of "contemporary students." The new contemporarystudent is typically over the age of 30, works full-time and has kids, all the while working to complete their degree. Fortunately for these students, there are a number of options for college that fit their schedule. The need for flexible education options is likely the reason for the growing interest in online programs among adult students.

Flexibility is essential

The incredible flexibility of online courses and degree programs is a draw to all online-enrolled students, but for older adults, it can be the difference between pursuing higher education and not. Online programs offer adult students the opportunity to complete a degree previously started, or start a new career path entirely, without major interruptions to lifestyle. Since there are no set class times in online programs, students can move at their own pace. For older adults, this flexibility means they can study when it works for them and avoid disruptions to their regular schedules. This is particularly helpful for parents, who are increasingly making the decision to go back to school. Additionally, online programs open the possibility to attend a vast number of institutions across the country without having to relocate the family or live far from home. 

Online classrooms are expanding

According to Forbes, one-third of America's 21 million enrolled students are taking some or all of their instruction online. So, much like the traditional student demographic is changing, the traditional classroom is evolving as well. While the physical classroom isn't going anywhere, decades of research from the U.S. Department of Education finds no significant difference in learning outcomes between online and classroom programs. This increased confidence in online learning has boosted the reputation of many online programs and attracted more people, including more adult students. 

The options available to adult students are also expanding. While traditional degree programs, like nursing, criminal justice and business administration, are increasingly being moved entirely online, so are less time intensive certificate programs that can help professionals advance their existing careers. While often not associated with a degree program, certificates can offer adult students a leg up in a competitive job market with specialized skills to set them apart from the competition. 

Older adults are great online learners

If you are an older adult thinking about enrolling in an online degree program, you are in luck. Columbia's Teachers College found that older adult learners are ideal candidates for online education – finding better outcomes among older adults in online programs than those in classroom settings. While younger students benefit greatly from the accountability and real-world lessons gained in a campus-based program, adult learners often thrive with more flexibility and the ability to maintain their jobs and families while completing a degree.

As more older adults pursue higher education, an increase in demand for online education programs will ensue. Increased flexibility, improved tools and platforms for online learners, and more programs focused on potential employment opportunities, will continue to be in high demand. Whether returning to a previously started degree, starting out on a fresh new career path or seeking to be more competitive in the job market, now could be the perfect time for older adults to seek out educational pursuits.

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Ashworth College

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Online College What Makes Our Medical Administrative Assistant Program Rank #1 Online

You want to get the most out of your education so why should you settle for anything less than the best? Ashworth’s Medical Office Assistant: Administrative Procedures Career Certificate Program was named the best online medical assistant program by Medical Assistant Advice. Here’s how we can help you get the skills to help you prepare for a career in the healthcare administration field.

“’The curriculum emphasizes administrative procedures, so classes focus on medical front office management, medical documentation, and processing insurance claims.”

— Medical Assistant Advice

Prepare for work you enjoy

You’re organized and pay attention to detail. You also enjoy helping others and making sure things run smoothly. With these skills, you can help run a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital from behind the scenes. From keeping records and helping patients fill out forms to coding procedures, your talents can be used in various ways as a medical administrative assistant.

Learn the skills to take the next step toward your goals

Being a medical administrative assistant involves helping patients with intake paperwork, pulling files, and scheduling tests or examinations. You’ll learn how to schedule appointments, follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, and ensure Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) compliance. You’ll also complete courses to help you prepare for the medical administrative assistant field such as:

  • A Day in the Life of a Medical Office Assistant. You’ll learn about the characteristics of an effective medical assistant and various working environments tas well as day-to-day duties.
  • Medical Insurance Processing and Coding. In this lesson, you’ll receive an introduction to medical insurance programs, coding, and the procedures to fill out and file insurance claims.
  • Legal and Ethical Issues. There are laws and ethics in place to protect patients and healthcare workers. In this lesson, you’ll learn about the types of malpractice and how you can protect your employer and yourself.
  • Managing the Flow of Medical Records. This lesson will cover the types of medical records and how to maintain them, as well as different payment and collection methods and the business and management of the medical front office.

This certificate program provides students with an introduction to administrative work at private practices, hospital offices, and clinical departments.

Start your career journey

Our Medical Office Assistant: Administrative Procedures Career Certificate Program can help prepare you for the field. Designed by healthcare professionals, this program focuses on the skills and knowledge can boost your potential for a career as a medical administrative assistant. Once you enroll you can prepare to take steps toward starting your career with Ashworth EDGE, our online career services toolkit that helps you translate lessons into the career skills.

Start your journey toward working as a medical administrative assistant with Ashworth College by calling an Admissions Advisor at .

Bedroom desk with laptop

Life Hacks How to Organize an Effective Study Space

Where do you study? If you find yourself studying on your bed in a messy room, you may want to consider revamping your space. The environment you’re studying in can determine how you learn, how much you retain, and how you apply that information. As an online learner, you have a lot of control over your study space. That’s why it’s important to make sure you make it the perfect study environment.

Here are five ways you can make your study space learning-friendly while also personalizing it for you.

Limit distractions and set guidelines

iphone & glasses

At home, there are countless distractions. Between family, a page long to-do list, and lack of motivation, it’s easy to let your mind wander. That’s why it’s important to set study rules. Let your family or roommates know that you’re studying, what you’re studying for, and how long you plan to study. This way they know not to disturb you and understand the importance of the material you plan to go through.

Your spot should also be peaceful and noise free. Listening to distracting music or watching TV may not be the best approach to studying. While music helps some people focus, if you find yourself singing along or concentrating more on the music than your studies you may want to turn it off. Your phone should be off or turned over to limit distractions. It shouldn’t be buzzing and giving you the temptation to surf the Internet. If your area is too quiet for your liking, turn on a fan to add some white noise. Or, think about past study environments that have worked for you. Try recreating that environment with sounds, smells, or lighting.

Comfort is key

Woman looking at computer

Nobody likes to be uncomfortable and you definitely shouldn’t be while you study. As an online learner, it’s easy to roll out of bed and start your schoolwork. While comfort is key, you need to draw the line between comfy and too comfy. This means you may want to change out of your pajamas before you hit the books. This way, you’re telling your brain it’s not time to nap, it’s time to learn.

Think about your desk and chair, too. You want to make sure your chair is comfortable with good support and won’t hurt your back as you’re busy reading and writing. Don’t forget to make sure that your computer monitor and chair are set to heights that are comfortable for you so you’re not injuring your neck or wrists. Lastly, keep your space cool and well lit. If it’s too hot or too cold, or if you’re straining your eyes to see, you’ll be easily distracted. Research shows that productivity is at its highest when the temperature is between 72°F and 75°F.

Keep it organized

Notebook on desk

Now that you have a study space, you want to keep it organized. First, make sure to gather all the supplies you may need and place them where they’re easily accessible. You want these items to be within reach so you don’t have to waste precious study time looking for what you need. You can organize these items by using desk drawers or by placing them in organized piles on top of your desk. Try keeping your materials together by course, including all notes and printouts you may need.

Ultimately, organization means something different for everyone. While a clean desk promotes productivity, a messy desk may help you be more creative. Everyone has a different style and it comes down to personal preference, so choose whatever style fits you. After all, comfort is key.

Personalize it

Decorated home desk

Adorning your study space with photographs, inspirational quotes, or posters can motivate you and keep you going. Maybe a picture of your family reminds you why you’re working so hard to earn your education. You can also spruce up the area with a plant or two. Studies show that plants improve air quality and can help you focus.

Most importantly, this space should be somewhere you enjoy being. A space that’s yours and only yours, even if it’s only a small corner in a busy room. Make this a space you actually enjoy spending time in.

Use the space only for studying

Laptop on a desk

You love your new study space. It’s comfortable and personalized just for you. So, it’s tempting to use it for non-study related activities. Don’t! You’ll be more likely to create distractions if you decide that this is also the space where you’ll watch Netflix, play video games, draw, or just relax. Dedicate it exclusively to studying, that way you only associate the space with learning.

BONUS: Enjoy it

Creating a study space is all about you and the way it makes you feel. It’s about dedicating time to study and creating an atmosphere that allows you to get ready to hit the books and work towards reaching your goals. Due to budgeting restrictions, you may not be able to create the study space of your dreams, but with these tips, you can turn even the most boring space into a spot that inspires you to learn.

Share your study space with us! Use the #AshworthCollege on social media and show us your favorite space to learn.

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Life Hacks How Exercise & Diet Can Impact Your Learning

If you’re lacking energy, having trouble concentrating, or just aren’t feeling your normal self, what you’re putting into your body (or lack thereof) may have something to do with it. Often times people tend to overlook how their lifestyle choices, like nutrition and exercise, can affect their brain. Making small changes in your busy life to adopt a healthier lifestyle can fuel your body and mind while giving you the energy you need to complete your tasks. Here’s how to fit healthy living into your busy schedule.

Nutrition as brain fuel

If you’re losing focus or falling behind in your schoolwork don’t brush it off. It may be due to your overall health. Believe it or not, nutrition affects your learning. Adopting a healthy lifestyle around your busy schedule, schoolwork, and career may seem exhausting, but it’s important. Eating well and moving more doesn’t mean you have to be miserable or eat foods you don’t enjoy. It’s about making small, gradual changes that result in you feeling better. And, if you feel better, you’ll produce better work, gain more energy, and enjoy a boost of confidence.

Food is fuel—fuel for your brain. But, “bad fuel” like processed or refined foods—meaning foods that have been pre-packaged, canned, or frozen—affect your brain in a negative way. Diets that are high in refined sugars can result in impaired brain function and mood disorders. According to the Harvard Health Blog, eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress. Healthier foods produce serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain that affects your mood. If you eat food that’s good for you, that means your overall mood will be better, resulting in better productivity.

With your busy life, it may seem easier to grab a burger on your lunch break from the closest fast food restaurant. Maybe you’re eating just to eat, not considering how it’s affecting your learning and overall mood in general. However, the more junk food you consume, the less nutrients your body receives.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of fitting healthy eating into your hectic life. Instead, try tips like

  • Meal prep. Meal prepping is the easiest way to get on track with healthy eating. Taking some time on a Sunday (or any day that works for you) to prepare meals for the week will set you up for success, and could even save you a few bucks. Wake up, grab your packaged meals, and get learning! When meal prepping, remember to remove foods that offer little to no nutritional value such as processed foods.
  • Pinterest is your friend. Pinterest is a one stop shop for all the easy, healthy recipes you need to get on track. Ashworth’s Nutrition, Diet & Exercise board is full of balanced, vitamin-packed recipes and food prep tips and tricks. Start there!
  • Start slow. Introduce nutritious foods and remove foods from your diet slowly. Incorporate more colorful fruits and vegetables (the more colors the better) as you remove more and more beige and white starchy foods. Take note of how you feel when you eat foods that are healthier and remember how good it feels to eat well when you slip back into old habits to get back on track.

Small changes is all it takes to get the nutrients you need to concentrate on your studies.

Work it out

There are plenty of reasons to exercise that range from reducing the risk of diseases to improving your body composition. But that’s not all. Research shows that exercise is just as important for our brains as it is for our bodies. Exercise helps our memory and thinking and reduces insulin resistance, inflammation that can lead to disease, and raises the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and the abundance and survival of new brain cells, according to Harvard Health Blog. Additionally, studies have shown that those who exercise have greater brain volume in the parts of the brain that controls thinking and memory.

While finding the time to exercise may sound exhausting there are ways to be active without spending hours at the gym. Here are some exercise tips that will have you study-ready:

  • Take a walk. Walking is a great way to introduce physical activity into your life. It’s low impact, doesn’t leave you sweating, and can be easily fit into your daily life. Instead of sitting at your desk at work, take a walk around the building or outside! Or, if you’re having trouble concentrating while studying, take a walk break. Pro tip: Track your steps and set small goals to add more into your week.
  • Find a buddy. If it's hard for you to stay motivated on your own find a buddy to help! Consider group classes such as Zumba, a spin class, or Crossfit. You can also get a personal trainer, but they can be expensive in the long run. Instead, you can commit to being your own personal trainer with Ashworth!
  • Destress. Yoga is low impact and makes you stronger, but it’s also good for your brain. Yoga helps you stress less while also keeping you sharp.

Your health can help you succeed

Nutritious eating and exercise is the ultimate self-care. When you’re healthy inside, you’ll produce better work on the outside. Keep your memory sharp and ready to learn with a solid diet and regular exercise. If you’re not sure where to start, Ashworth College can help! Our Nutrition, Diet and Health Science Program can help you understand how a better diet can improve your quality of life, while our Personal Training Program can help you recognize why physical activity improves your overall health. Ready to take the first step? Enroll online or call us at to see if these programs are right for you.

 
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