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Online classes for adults

    In our digital era, the landscape of adult education has been expanded by the birth of online classes. There’s now accessibility and flexibility when it comes to learning. The online courses for adults that exist cater to a diverse range of needs, from professional development to personal enrichment, and are provided by various institutions, including universities, specialized online platforms, and community colleges.

    If you took a break from your studies at any point or are in a place in your life where continuing education classes make sense, there are many online avenues to consider.

    Continue reading as we break down the types of online classes available for adults continuing their education, how to decide between online classes and in-person classes and whether financial aid is available for online classes.

    Types of online classes available for adults

    There’s an extensive range of online class offerings for adults provided by many institutions, from four-year colleges to companies running online learning platforms. Here are some of the options.

    Community college or university continuing education programs

    Many community colleges and universities offer continuing education programs designed for adult learners. These programs often provide a variety of courses and are typically open to adults of all ages and educational backgrounds.

    Online learning platforms

    Online learning platforms often offer diverse courses, sometimes taught by industry professionals and experts. These platforms often allow you to learn at your own pace and acquire new skills or knowledge from the comfort of your home.

    Professional development courses

    If you want to enhance your professional skills, there are workshops and seminars related to your field of work — many of which are online. Sometimes, these courses are geared towards helping you advance in your current career, while others are geared towards helping you transition to a new job.

    Online degree programs

    If you're considering pursuing a college degree as an adult, many colleges and universities offer online degree programs that allow you to complete coursework remotely. Some of these programs cater to adult learners balancing work and family responsibilities.

    What to consider when deciding between online classes and in-person classes

    When deciding between online and in-person classes, it can be important to consider various factors to determine which format best suits your learning style, schedule, and goals. Here are some key points to consider when comparing online and in-person classes.

    Potential pros of online classes

    • Flexibility: Online classes sometimes offer flexibility, allowing you to conveniently access course materials and lectures. This can be especially beneficial for individuals with work, family, or other commitments.
    • Location independence: With online classes, you can participate from anywhere with an internet connection, eliminating the need to commute to a physical campus. This flexibility is advantageous for individuals living in remote areas, with a busy schedule, or who prefer to be at home.
    • Self-paced learning: Online classes often provide self-paced learning opportunities, allowing you to progress through course materials at your own speed. This can benefit individuals who prefer autonomy and the ability to set their own study timelines.
    • Access to diverse resources: Online classes often utilize digital tools and resources, such as multimedia content, discussion forums, and virtual libraries, providing access to a wide range of learning materials.

    Potential pros of in-person classes

    • Face-to-face interaction: In-person classes can facilitate direct interaction with instructors and classmates, allowing for real-time discussions, question-and-answer sessions, and collaborative learning experiences.
    • Immediate feedback: In traditional classroom settings, instructors can provide immediate feedback, clarification, and guidance, which can enhance the learning experience and address questions or concerns in the moment.
    • Structure and accountability: In-person classes offer a structured learning environment with designated class times, providing accountability and a routine that can help some individuals stay focused and motivated.
    • Hands-on learning: Some subjects, such as lab-based sciences, performing arts, or practical skills training, may be better suited to in-person instruction.

    Ultimately, the choice between online and in-person classes depends on your learning preferences, lifestyle, and educational needs. Some individuals may benefit from a combination of both formats, while others may find that one format better aligns with their learning style and goals. It’s important to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of each option to make an informed decision that best supports your educational journey.

    Can you get financial aid for online classes?

    To determine if you can get federal financial aid for any online classes you may take, you must first ask yourself two questions:

    • Am I a degree or non-degree student?
    • Is both the school and the program I’m enrolled in accredited?

    You must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify for federal financial aid. Non-enrolled students won’t qualify for federal financial aid. In other words, if you’re enrolled in a program in some capacity, you may be eligible for federal financial aid, but if you’re just taking a class, you won’t be.

    The other piece to make sure of is that the school and the particular program you’re enrolled in is accredited and eligible for financial aid and that the school uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

    If so, federal aid should generally cover any courses available to you – including those online. To see if you’re eligible for federal financial aid, you should first file the FAFSA®.

    You may also be eligible for scholarships and grants from sources other than the federal government in support of your education goals. These grants and scholarships might have differing requirements, and you might not need to be enrolled part-time to receive this aid.

    Final thoughts

    There are several options for adults interested in taking online classes. Many colleges and universities offer online courses and degree programs for non-traditional students. Some online colleges specialize in providing higher education for working adults.

    Researching and comparing the options available is important to find the best fit for your educational and career goals. Good luck as you embark on your educational journey.