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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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Career When Hard Work Isn’t Enough, Here’s What You Need to Succeed

You’ve been studying hard and working towards that 4.0 GPA. But, is that what employers will care about most? While good grades will get you far on your career journey, soft skills can get you even further. Excellent grades don't guarantee spot on performance, but developing soft skills can show potential employers that you have what it takes to adapt, learn, and confidently take on new tasks as they’re given to you. In fact, 31% of teachers think it’s more important to develop soft skills. Here are the skills you need to impress employers.

Succeed with a strong work ethic

Companies across the United States are finding it difficult to find applicants with soft skills, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some skills are difficult to teach and work ethic is one of them. Employers will be impressed if you possess this skill right from the start. Having a strong work ethic means you’re organized, timely, and dedicated. But, that’s not all. Work ethic also means you budget your time wisely while being able to work independently or with a team. Either way, you can be trusted to get the job done every time and without excuses.

Think outside of the box

Employers want candidates with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. That means you need to be creative and curious. Stand out from other applicants by showing you can make informed decisions and analyze situations. No matter the field, you’ll need to think critically and understand problems while providing solutions. You’ll also need to adapt to new challenges and take ownership of problems as they arise. Thinking outside of the box can go a long way. Set yourself apart by approaching challenges in a critical way through analysis, open-mindedness, and creativity.

Communication is key

Communication skills go beyond talking. To be a good communicator you need to be able to effectively articulate your needs and also listen to the needs of others. Employers look for candidates who can communicate their ideas and receive the ideas of their coworkers with an open mind. No matter the career, you’ll need to communicate with coworkers, clients, customers, or vendors. As an employee, you may find yourself discussing problems, giving instructions, and working in teams. Being able to do so effectively can help you advance your career. By bringing forth clear ideas, plans, and processes for how to improve goods or services in your company in an easy to understand manner, you'll show your employer how invested you are in what you do.

There’s no “I” in team

Teamwork really does make the dream work, and employers recognize that. That’s why employers look for candidates who work well with others. As an employee you’ll often work with your colleagues on projects and you may not always see eye to eye. Being part of a team doesn’t just mean working together. It also means you give and receive feedback and constructive criticism. Collaboration skills are essential and employers look for candidates who can work independently while also contributing to overall team goals.

Spread positivity

A smile goes a long way. While you may not think a positive attitude is the key to succeeding in the workforce, employers are genuinely interested in candidates who are optimistic and are refreshing to be around. As an employee, you should be friendly and eager to work. It’s especially important to remain positive in a less than ideal work environments. Your enthusiasm, patience, and overall energy won’t go unnoticed.

Go beyond your grade

While a high GPA is certainly something to celebrate, remember that employers are looking beyond your grade when considering you for a position at their company. Job candidates who can think outside of the box, understand teamwork, can come up with creative solutions, and possess leadership skills are in demand. Work to strengthen these skills like you would any other lesson you learn at school. With hard work and a dynamite set of soft skills you can succeed in work you’re passionate about!

woman walking down a road

Career Career Programs You Can Start & Finish This Year

If you’re ready for your next career adventure or if you’re looking for something new and exciting on your current career path, you don’t have to take the long road. Ashworth is here to help you embark on your journey towards a rewarding career. Here are 10 programs you can start and finish this year.

Child Care Provider

The need for child care providers is increasing. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 1,298,700 people will be employed as child care providers by 2026. Parents rely on child care providers to help keep their kids safe while also aiding in their intellectual growth. As a child care provider you may work in a daycare center, before- or after-school program, preschool, or home visit. Through our Child Care Provider Career Diploma program, you’ll develop skills to care for children from birth to school age in as little as four months.

Upon completion of the program, you’ll become a member of the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC).

Medical Billing and Coding

Learn in-demand skills with our online Medical Billing and Coding Career Certificate. This program will help prepare you for work in doctor’s offices, medical practices, hospitals, and clinics. With a growing aging population that requires medical treatment, medical billing career opportunities are expected to grow by 13% by 2026 according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

You’ll learn the responsibilities of a medical biller/coder, the purpose of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), billing guidelines for medical needs, the life cycle of insurance claims, and the need for accurately coding diagnoses and procedures using industry-standard coding systems.

Heating and Air Conditioning

Commercial and residential buildings require HVAC systems, leaving a need for qualified professionals to install, maintain, and replace those systems. In our online Heating and Air Conditioning Career Diploma program, you’ll learn skills such as how to identify systems and components used for heating and air conditioning, understand standard installation procedures, and troubleshoot and maintain HVAC installations and commercial refrigeration in as little as four months.

This program also offers students the opportunity to complete the EPA 608 Certification Exam.

Bookkeeping

If you’re interested in financial data, spreadsheets, and statistical reporting then a career in bookkeeping may be for you. Our online Bookkeeping Career Diploma program will help prepare you to meet entry-level bookkeeping needs for businesses of all sizes. You’ll learn the basics of bookkeeping and accounting practices, to explain the concepts of cash and accrual accounting, to prepare payroll transactions, and assist in basic internal controls to prevent theft, embezzlement, and check and credit card fraud.

Dog Obedience Trainer

If you have a furry friend who you trained or if you enjoy helping friends train their new pet then you might want to consider starting our online Dog Obedience Trainer Career Diploma program. As dog owners seek help training their pets, animal trainer careers are expected to grow 20% by 2026, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In this program, you’ll learn the roles and responsibilities of dog trainers, different breed characteristics, problem behaviors, and critical periods of dog behavior in as little as four months.

Event Planning

If you’re detail oriented, organized, and enjoy working with people then you may want to consider a career as an event planner. In our Event Planning Career Diploma program, you’ll learn the role of an event planner, the importance of the interview process and how to determine the budget, size, and style of events, how to plan various events, such as birthdays, religious celebrations, showers, and more, and business considerations involved in running an event planning business.

Enrollment in this program also comes with a one-year student membership to Meeting Professionals International.

Graphic Design

If you have a love for art and design and want to turn your passion into a rewarding career then our online Graphic Design Career Diploma program may be right for you. In this program, you’ll learn the elements and principles of design and how to apply them to print and web projects. You’ll also learn to use graphics software from Adobe Creative Cloud®, including Photoshop®, Illustrator®, InDesign®, Muse®, and Edge Animate®.

Retail Management

If you’re looking to enhance your resume and are interested in being in a role that combines leadership and interpersonal skills with sales knowledge, then consider enrolling in our online Retail Management Career Diploma program. Growth in managerial roles in expected to increase with 77,300 new jobs expected for first-line supervisors of retail sales workers by 2026, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In this program, you’ll learn the basics of retail management and merchandising, including organizational structure and key positions, growth and expansion, consumer communication, and merchandise layout and presentation.

Wedding Planner

You love love and you’re a people person, but most importantly, you enjoy planning parties. Newly engaged couples often seek the help of professionals to plan their big day. By enrolling in our Wedding Planner Career Diploma program you can turn your love for love into a career. You’ll learn the role of a professional wedding planner, wedding customs, rituals, and traditions, planning wedding events, including parties, showers, and ceremonies, and how to run a wedding planning business.

In this program, you’ll also receive a one-year membership for the Association of Bridal Consultants® (ABC).

Small Business Management

Whether you’re interested in launching a home-based business or opening your own store, the Small Business Management Career Diploma may be right for you. In as little as four months, you’ll learn how to plan, structure, and run a small business. You’ll cover topics such as business plan development, sales and marketing basics, and the fundamentals of small business accounting and finance.

Why Ashworth?

Ashworth programs are self-paced and available online, allowing you to study when and where you want.

When you enroll you’ll have access to your Student Portal dashboard, which provides instant access to your lessons and support. You’ll also join an active online community of students, staff, and alumni.

Contact Ashworth to start your journey towards finishing your program this year.

What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get with an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education?

Career What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get with an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education?

An online Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education is designed for aspiring educators who want to develop a career focused on teaching children age 4 and younger. Though you may have stayed at home with a sitter or guardian, or attended a loosely-programmed preschool or play group at that age, it’s now the 2010s and expectations for life pre-K now include structured education by teachers who have earned degrees specifically for this field.

Become a preschool teacher

If you have a heart for little kids and patience to boot, consider earning your online Associate Degree and preparing for a job as a preschool teacher! The main goal of preschool is for toddlers to gain language, motor, and social skills while having lots and lots of fun.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for preschool teachers is projected to increase 10% between 2016 and 2026.* That’s a faster-than-average growth projection for all occupations during the same time period. Since the typical requirement for launching a career as a preschool teacher is the completion of an Associate Degree, that leaves plenty of time to get started, graduate, and secure a position in this growing field.

Positions for preschool teachers are available through Head Start programs, private early childhood education centers, churches and faith-based schools, as well as through tutoring, nannying, and at-home childcare services.

The need for preschool teachers is projected to increase 10% between 2016 and 2026—a faster than average growth for all jobs!

Bilingual or want to be? Teach ELLs or become an au pair

As more school systems throughout the U.S. enroll first-generation citizens from non-English-speaking homes, there’s a growing need for trained teachers who can help the youngest of students learn English. Becoming a preschool teacher who works with English Language Learners (ELLs) is a unique way to apply your passion for ECE to a demographic of children who can greatly benefit from your language skills.

If private childcare and teaching is more your style—and you have a sense of adventure—use your ECE degree to become an au pair for a family outside the U.S., or nanny for a foreign family that’s recently moved to the U.S. In both situations, your training will bolster the children’s English-speaking skills and you’ll gain a world of knowledge about another culture.

Ready to learn how to play with purpose? Check out the curriculum of our Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. Or practice your ABCs and enroll today!

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Preschool Teachers, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm (visited October 31, 2018).

 
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