Today’s economic climate of widespread lay-offs and disappearing job markets has sent many adults back to college to work on furthering their education.
Whether their intent is to gain a higher certification in a field they are already qualified in, or to test the waters in a brand new field, adult students need to understand that the college educational system is very different from when they first attended college or graduated from high school. The advent of the Internet has changed the way schools operate and educate, and being a technophobe is no longer acceptable if you’re going back to school. Fully taking advantage of the educational opportunities offered includes embracing the Internet, and understanding it’s role in the collegiate system.
Before even setting foot in a classroom prospective students can go online and discover a college’s application process, or find contact information to get in touch with someone who can help them enroll. Most colleges now offer online applications that take less time to be accepted, and notifications of acceptance come online as well.
Online catalogues are becoming the standard that schools are using to enroll students into classes. Students can search courses, select their schedules, and even pay their tuition online. This streamlines the process that used to require a trip to an advisor’s office before heading to the bursar’s with a payment. It also opens up a student’s options, allowing them to discover classes that might interest them, but aren’t generally taken in their major.
Colleges also offer entire courses online. This option might be best for adult students who are working and going to college, or have kids at home and can’t get away for three or four hours a day for a physical class. Online classes are in the same course catalogue, and many times mirror classes that are offered in a physical classroom. Having a choice to take the type of class that works best for the individual student is an important concept to consider when going back to school. There are even certain colleges that offer all of their classes through the Internet. The University of Phoenix and Walden University are both distinguished colleges that have no physical campus, and conduct all of their business online. An email address and a word processing program are all that’s necessary to take basic classes this way, and are many times the best option for busy adults.
In class professors are using the Internet to upload lectures, notes, or other useful material. Students in class can then access the information outside of class, and even interact with the professor or other students regarding the content. Even if a class is missed, the notes are readily available to keep students up to date. Certain professors will even add video, or keep a podcast of their classes for download.
One benefit the Internet brings to college is the availability of textbooks for significantly lower prices than are available at the on campus bookstore. Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Borders all sell new and sometimes used textbooks for a fraction of the cost. Some websites such as Bookfinder.com, BigWords, and eCampus have devoted their business entirely to selling used textbooks at big savings. The website TextSwap offers a free service where textbooks from completed classes can be offered and exchanged for textbooks needed in an upcoming semester.
By far the most useful aspect of the Internet is the vast amount of information that is available about even the most obscure research topics. The days when students trekked to the library and searched for days in the stacks of books for one elusive volume are over. With a carefully crafted search phrase a wealth of information will appear immediately, saving time when writing essays and research papers. Learning how Google, Bing, or Yahoo search the Internet is a skill that requires practice. Figuring out what commands will adjust a search to yield the most useful results take time a patience, but can help to narrow a search into just the sites that yield relevant information. Ironically, you can actually perform a search in any search engine for articles that will explain how to refine your searches.
These are just a few of the Internet resources that adult student have available to them. All of them can be utilized to make the adult college experience easier, by saving time and money. That is why it is important for adult students to understand and embrace the new technology, conquering any fears, and making the services work to their advantage.