As an adult, you need different things from your college education than students who are fresh out of high school. In addition to offering convenience and a flexible schedule, many online college degree programs cater to adult students to meet those needs.

Different Needs for Adult Learners

Generally, adults need a “different level of support” than young students who are often still “kids” in their teenage years, according to Vermont Public Radio. In particular, adult learning styles differ from children’s learning styles in a few key ways, San Diego City College reported.

Generally, adult students are more interested in self-directed learning in which the instructor helps them question and evaluate information to make decisions rather than simply telling them information. Because adults have amassed life experiences beyond academics, they often learn better by relating their own experiences to the information they’re studying. This can translate to discussing past experiences that are relevant to course material and to working on problem-solving skills involving real-world problems.

Often, adults’ educational needs stem from life events rather than an abstract quest for knowledge. Parenting, job changes and marriages and divorces are often the purpose behind seeking a college education. Adult learners tend to be more interested in gaining practical skills and knowledge that they can use in their personal or professional life outside of academia rather than focusing on theories, so they want to learn through experience, by doing.

The Value of Flexibility

One other important requirement that many adult students have is the need for flexibility. No longer kids, adult students are more likely to have other responsibilities on their plate besides school. Some are working, often full-time, in jobs that they can’t or don’t want to leave – in many cases, jobs that they would like to advance in once they earn their degrees. Even those adult students working in a field outside of their degree path often need to keep at their work to support a family, raise funds for a business they would like to start or meet other financial obligations. Still other adult students have substantial family responsibilities.

Whatever your situation, you know that a strict course schedule of face-to-face meetings on campus isn’t an option for you. That’s where the flexibility of online courses comes in. Many online college degree programs let you do the work on your own schedule and log on from anywhere in the world without ever having to set foot on campus.

Given the differences between adult and children’s learning styles and the importance of a flexible schedule, it’s no surprise that online college is a good (and popular) choice for nontraditional students. The single largest age group represented among online college students is the 25- to 29-year-old range, and more than 80 percent of online students are older than 24, according to EdTech magazine. As an adult student in an online college degree program, you will be in good company.