Choosing the right Type of University for Older Students

The Right University for the Senior Citizen-Choose Wisely!

“Older” may mean 30, 40, 50, or even 60. Or older! I was in my 50s when I started back to school. I really only thought I’d go for a while and get a “little bit more education.” But I liked the subject, the knowledge that was pouring into my brain, and the college experience, so I stayed a little bit longer. And then one spring day – I graduated! I’d never have done it if online classes hadn’t become possible. I probably wouldn’t have gone into a traditional classroom at 56. But THIS…this was the best thing to come along since the invention of the wheel!

So I got the Associate Degree in Psychology, the passion I’d followed through reading and independent study over the years. That wasn’t enough. I still wanted to learn. I quickly transferred those Associate credits to another school, where I entered as a junior. And that wasn’t even enough. I was soon earning credits toward a graduate degree. All through my school experience, everything has been done via the Internet.

The first school was difficult – subject matter was complex, but I could study at my own pace and submit essays when they were complete. My text books were included in the tuition. There were no campus classes to go to, although there was a campus if I’d lived close enough. I liked this study-at-home technique, though. I stuck with it and maintained a 4.0 GPA all the way through my online classes. It’s not that they were easy – they weren’t, and if I suggested online studies are easier than traditional campus classes, I would be very wrong. I worked hard because getting more education became a primary focus in my life.

The second school involved a lot of writing for entry and a fairly lengthy exam, but since I was a pretty decent writer, I knew what I was doing there and had learned how to research, format, draft, and write scholarly papers while in the the first school. This was also online, and there were no real-time classes where everyone had to sign on at a certain hour. I could do my work anytime of the day or night. Yes, in my pajamas. How comfy! I only needed to pay attention to the instructors’ deadlines.

The third school, where I am now, is based in Clinton, Iowa, and has been well-established there since 1918. It was formerly Mount Saint Clare, and then Franciscan University. It is now renamed Ashford University, and continues on with its longtime campus traditions, replete with sports teams and all the rest of the advantages of a busy campus.
Our university has other advantages for the College of External Studies besides the convenience of studying at home – there are honor societies, honors awards, travel/study opportunities, acknowledgment of individual achievements, a great library and database, a school store with 2-day delivery to your door and a great selection of supplies, clothing, and accessories. The administrators, teaching staff, writing mentors, and advisors are truly dedicated and inspiring. They’ve been very helpful to me if I’ve had questions or concerns.

But best of all, there are great classes with lively discussions among peers. There is easy attendance, but there is nothing easy about the classes! And that, after all, is how we want it to be. Who ever said college is easy? I feel certain that upon graduation from Ashford, we will have gotten our money’s worth, and then some.

To know what type of university is best for you or an older friend or family member, you should know there are many options to choose from these days. Many of the older, established campus colleges and universities have introduced online studies in the last few years. If you’re going online to study, speak with the advisors by phone and compare notes between the schools. Let them know your age and your expectations of going to school at this time in your life.

Make sure the university is accredited regionally. Know how their financial aid is set up and if you will defer payments on student loans or if you’ll have to pay everything in advance or pay as you go. Check into the quality and credentials of the administrators and teaching staff. If you can speak with alumni, you may be able to get some idea of the quality of education you will receive. You can even go to the school for a personal visit, and perhaps you will decide you fit in and would rather attend classes on campus! There are many ways to be sure the school you choose will be the right one for your needs. Just don’t give up your dream – there’s always a way to make it work for you.