The National Center for Education Statistics reports college attendance is on the rise by students of all ages, many of them are returning students. They claim over 7.6 million students attending college last year were over the age of 25 years.
The reasons for returning to school can vary just as much as the type of student. Some return to finish a degree they started earlier in life, while others return to benefit their career. Some want to advance their position within a company. Some want to feel more secure in the job they currently have.
Other reasons include gaining a sense of accomplishment and confidence that comes with obtaining a college diploma or additional certificates. Adults returning to school can sometimes be looking for something completely new and seek a change of direction that accompanies a diploma.
Returning to school can mean answering questions about where you will attend, how to finance your education, and if your lifestyle will be affected.
The American Association of Community Colleges reports that in the last year, nearly 550,000 local college students earned a certificate. In addition, almost 840,000 students received an associate degree and over 20,000 earned a bachelor’s degree from a local college.
Why are so many students, including returning students, returning to school at a local college? Convenience. Keep reading to learn more about the conveniences provided by a local college.
Not many returning students can drop everything to focus fully on getting an education. That’s because they may have children to care for. They may also be working full-time, as well as keeping up with daily responsibilities of paying bills, running errands, cooking, cleaning and the many other tasks that need to be done.
Going to a local college means you can complete courses on your terms. You can take classes online or on-campus, whichever best meets the needs of your lifestyle.
As a returning student, you need flexibility. Local colleges offer this through the fast-track trainings and degree programs.
The flexibility offered by local colleges allows you to continue working and juggling all other responsibilities, at a pace best fit for your family. It can also benefit you financially.
Saves You Money
Attending a larger, four-year institution can mean more expenses. Living on campus can cost an average of around $10,000 a year, in addition to tuition costs. Even if you choose not to live on campus, you will need to pay for gas to and from school each day.
Local colleges may help you avoid some of these expenses. They offer online courses that you can complete at home, saving you both time and money. They also offer students lower tuition costs.
You can even apply for scholarships, grants and other funding to help with tuition costs, just as you can in four-year universities.
Local colleges allow you to take the same type of courses as four-year institutions, but in more affordable ways. While the prices may be lower, the quality of education you receive can be just as high, and sometimes higher, than that of some larger universities.
Because local colleges are smaller than four-year institutions, you can receive more individualized support. There are fewer students in each class, allowing professors to offer more of their time to each one.
In larger universities, there can sometimes be 100 or more students in some courses. This makes it very difficult for professors to spread their time among everyone. With class size averaging 25 students or less in a local college, professors have ample time to meet with you outside of class.
In addition, local colleges have programs to support students with disabilities or who need extra academic support, like four-year colleges. There are opportunities for tutoring and studying with peer groups.
The computer labs and libraries are smaller too, allowing the staff to better aid students who request assistance.
Professors are more accessible at a local college. This may be because professors at a local college are not required to conduct research, attend conferences, or participate on committees. They can focus on their lesson plans and classroom instruction.
This doesn’t mean professors are less qualified, however. In fact, some professors at local colleges are much more qualified to teach than those at a four-year institution. Because larger universities have so many students, they often hire graduate teaching assistants to teach general education courses.
Graduate teaching assistants rarely have professional expertise acquired by working in the industry. Typically, they agree to teach classes to reduce the amount of student loan debt by exchanging teaching for tuition.
Professors at local colleges are often working in the industry while they teach. They often have many years of real-world experience and are considered experts.
This means local college students will be getting valuable advice directly related to what they will face when graduating. This also leads to great opportunities to network and build relationships with community leaders.
Local colleges may be smaller, but they can still compete with the larger universities in the technologies available online and on campus. Local colleges are connected to their community and often receive support from local businesses.
This support provides updated technologies that allow students to learn using the latest systems and upgrades. In doing so, students who graduate from local colleges may be considered serious competitors when interviewing for jobs.
In conclusion, local colleges offer conveniences like the ones listed above. Other conveniences can include receiving professional certificates proving you are up-to-date with the skills needed for jobs in industries such as information technology, business, and even healthcare.
Local colleges offer a variety of degrees and programs too. You can choose from fast-track training, associate degree, bachelor’s degree and in some fields, like business, you can even receive a Master of Business Administration.
You may be able to do this at your own pace, with more support and flexibility, and in less time.