Nov 22 2021

Student Perspective: An Adult Learner Navigates Asynchronous Online Classes

As a working parent new to online learning, here’s what I found engaging.

I remember it like it was yesterday: the look on my father’s face when I told him he would become a grandfather before my high school graduation. He was crestfallen. My family had always planned for me to get a traditional college education. At that moment, however, my plans to get a degree in English seemed to vanish before our eyes.

I finished high school a few months after my daughter’s birth, and shortly after that, I became the sole provider for my new family. Over the years, I attempted more than once to enroll in college courses, but without a support system, I quickly gave up each time.

STUDENT VOICES: See what else college students had to say about their online learning experiences.

What Motivated Me to Return to College as a Working Adult

Jump ahead 15 years: A big part of my decision to go back to college is to set a good example for my teenage daughter. I want her to have an easier time than I did. So, I decided to show her how difficult it is to go to school full time while holding down a full-time job.

I also wanted to make my girlfriend proud. Meeting her almost two years ago was one of the pivotal moments of my life. Here, finally, is someone I truly believe will support me no matter what, and that’s something I have sorely lacked in the past. It was during one of our long conversations that I realized that going to college was more than a pipe dream.

READ MORE: A student offers six tips for supporting online learners with ADHD.

Factors I Considered When Choosing a College

I began to search for a college that would meet the needs of a working adult. I work a swing shift, so I needed a school that would be accessible when I’m awake and ready to study. As the father of a teenage girl, I also needed affordable tuition rates.

The final requirement was a good English program. It could potentially open so many doors: an opportunity to become an English teacher, a college professor, an editor, a journalist, or even a marketer.

After careful consideration, I chose to enroll at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) for its convenience, affordability and quality program offerings. SNHU’s flexible online classes seemed like the perfect fit.

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Why Do Adult Students Prefer Asynchronous Learning?

I started my first term at SNHU in the fall of 2021. As an adult learner new to online courses, I want to share a few insights on what has worked for me.

I am really enjoying the fact that SNHU’s online terms are only eight weeks long. The idea of packing an entire course into two months made me nervous at first. But SNHU has made online learning work by paring the courses down to the most important points, which really appeals to me. Since students are considered to be full time if they take two courses per term, this allows me to focus more on each subject.

I also appreciate the fast responses from my instructors. Getting a quick answer lets me know immediately what I’m doing right — and what I need to do to improve. It also helps that the discussion board on our learning management system resembles an in-person dialogue experience. I have always enjoyed back-and-forth exchanges with my peers, but in the absence of that, an online forum is an acceptable replacement.

I have no doubt that this journey ahead of me will be full of challenges and rewards. A childhood dream has become a possible reality through the advancements in and the accessibility of technology.

I do not believe that it will be easy. Why should it be? Nothing of this significance should be. But with the support of my friends and family, along with the staff at SNHU, I feel confident I can reach my goals. The positive impact a college degree could have on my personal and professional life will be well worth the work.

Explore our Remote Learning Diaries series to see what else college students have to say about their virtual classroom experiences.

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