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The Elements of a Support System for Adult College Students

The Elements of a Support System for Adult College Students

As we progress through life and grow in maturity, so our character and confidence tends to grow. However there are some experiences which can challenge even those of us whose confidence and strength of character would normally never be in question. Returning to education as an adult is one such event which, however positive a step forward, can invoke feelings of insecurity, shyness, trepidation and uncertainty, all of which have an impact on confidence.

For an adult student to successfully complete a university or college degree course, he or she will often require a greater degree of support to stay the course than students progressing from high school. The pressures of adult life, career, family and finances all threaten to take their toll on the resolve of even the most determined adult college student.

How Educational Institutions Support Adult Students

As increasing numbers of adults take the decision to go back to school and study for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, institutions have seen the need to take steps to retain them. Many universities and colleges have developed support programs to support adult or “non-traditional” students and help them achieve their academic goals.

Indeed some institutions have evolved and reinvented themselves in specialist capacities, catering predominantly for adult students. On the other hand, most universities and colleges, recognizing the need to create supportive environments, have stepped up the support framework for adult enrollees. Initiatives intended to support adult college students include:

  • Adult student counselors and advisors
  • Highly individualized study programs
  • Accelerated learning formats
  • Prior learning assessments
  • Distance education

For many adults returning to education, an online college represents the perfect solution. The ability to enroll in a program leading to an associate’s degree, even a bachelor’s or master’s degree, with all study taking place from home, is for many adults a convenient and attractive proposition.

How Your Family Can Support You as an Online Student

If you are planning to join the growing population of adult students enrolled at an online college, remember that you will still need a supportive environment in which you can feel positive about your education, without the introduction of distractions and stress from the other responsibilities in your life. This is where your family and friends can help enormously, but it’s important to get them on board before your program gets under way.

A good way to start building your own student support network is to first write a list of all the people you think will be able and willing to help you manage the balance between your education and the rest of your busy life. Even if you will be doing all your study and coursework online, finding the time to do it all will probably require people to help you with household management, childcare and even stress management.

Keep Communications Open

Once you’ve identified the people who can help you and sought their agreement, it will be important to sit down with your family and set everyone’s expectations. Let your family know exactly why you are enrolling at college and the goals that you have for your education. Make sure everyone understands that you will not be as accessible as you once were, for the duration of your degree program.

Remember to keep the lines of communication open as you progress in your online college education. Sometimes members of your family will need to be reminded about why you are doing what you do and how the whole family will benefit.

Online Colleges Have Academic Advisors Too

Another support resource you can draw on is the academic advisor for your online college. Just like bricks and mortar establishments, online education facilities will have advisors on hand. You will be able to contact them via email and possibly online chat and telephone. An academic advisor will be able to answer questions and generally provide you with peace of mind. Academic advisors working for online colleges understand the particular challenges you face, both as an adult student and one who is engaged in distance learning.

As an adult returning to school, it’s essential to reach out to all possible sources of support, especially those provided by the college itself. This applies whether you study online or attend regular university or college classes. If you need to find an education facility which offers a good range of adult student support services, the database at is an excellent place to start, listing all accredited two and four year colleges in the U.S. You don’t need to register and use of the service is free of charge.

Related Articles - Battling Distractions: Top 10 Ways to Maintain Focus;  Three Things to Remember When Returning to School;  Balancing Family Life and an Education

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