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Is It the Right Time For Adult Education?

The world did not have it easy last year. With unemployment, businesses closing, and economic uncertainty, many families were displaced and were in a dire situation. The economic fallout greatly affected many low-income families.

In a survey by Pew Research Center, it was found that one in four adults had trouble paying their financial obligations since the Corona Virus pandemic began. One-third of the respondents have already used a portion of their savings or their retirement accounts to survive. One in six respondents said that they have resorted to borrowing from friends and family. These burdensome situations are common among adults who belong in the lower-income bracket, those who have not finished college, or those who are Black and Hispanic Americans.

Jobs have also been scarce and difficult to come by. Around 25% of adults in the U.S. say that they or another person in their household has lost their job due to the pandemic. However, it’s not only those who have lost their jobs who suffered. Around 32% of adults say that they had to reduce work hours and take reduced wages due to the economic consequences of the pandemic. Among lower-income families, 32% have trouble paying their dues to their home mortgage lenders.

With everything that is happening, adult education understandably can be the last thing on your mind. For lower-income families, basic needs such as food, healthcare, and shelter can be difficult to meet. However, with the shift to online or remote learning, now can be the best time to invest in adult education. Finishing your degree can help you land a higher-paying job that can sustain you and your family.

What does adult education mean?

Adult education refers to education specifically designed for adults to improve their technical skills, as well as their professional qualifications. It aims to improve their abilities and augment their knowledge to complete their formal education. Other terms used to refer to adult education include recurrent education, continuing education, or second-chance education. It helps adults who want to pursue finishing their degree later on in their lives. Of course, some pursue adult education to add to their skills set.

However, adult education is not without its challenges. Since most adult learners are employed, not having enough time can be a problem. Some also have families and children to take care of.

Some adults also deal with self-doubt due to their age. They may feel that their time has already passed and that they have lost their chance. You can still learn at whatever age if you really want to. It is never too late to work on your self-development.

Another challenge that many adult learners face is neuroplasticity. When you learn something new, your brain creates a new neural pathway for that learning. The younger you are, the more plastic your brain is, and the easier it is to make new neural pathways. As you become older, your brain becomes more rigid and less plastic. It is difficult for an adult’s brain to establish new pathways, making it more challenging for adults to grasp new things. They may also learn new things that contradict what they already know. It will take some effort on the adult learner’s part to shift his views and beliefs.

Lastly, many adult learners struggle financially when it comes to finishing their adult education. They may have to rely on student loans and financial aids to finance their education.

What are the financial aids available to adult learners?

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Securing a degree can help improve your qualifications. If you want to return to school but are burdened by your financial obligations to your family, a federal education grant can help you. The Federal government offers two educational grants to learners of all ages.

  • The Federal Pell Grant. This grant is awarded to undergraduate students who have great financial needs and do not have yet a bachelor’s degree. Unlike a student loan, you have no obligation of repaying a Federal Pell Grant.
  • The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Another federal aid available to adult learners is the FSEOG. It is available to low-income adults who want to start or return to their post-secondary education. Adult learners who have qualified under the Pell Grant can still apply for the FSEOG program if they prove that they still have serious financial needs.

You can also look into state grants that are available where you live. Each state will have different educational and financial grants, so you may want to visit your state’s department of education site for more details.

Some schools offer grants and assistance to deserving students. Your current employer may also offer educational grants for employees.

Adapting distance learning for adult learners

Even before the pandemic happened, distance learning was already becoming popular among adult learners. Adult learners do not have the same availability as young learners. With so much on their plate, attending classroom classes can be difficult.

Online classes have become the norm in the past year. However, the lack of tools and resources proved to be another problem for many low-income students. Some schools offer in-person classes, fully online classes, and a combination of online and in-person classes. You can check with your prospective schools on the method of deliveries that they are using. Many are offering flexible options to cater to the needs of their students and ensure their safety amidst the global pandemic.

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