Studies have shown that our body is not the only part that deteriorates as we age. Our minds, unfortunately, are typically the one element that will fade as well. With our minds also goes our memories. As a result, and the majority of our mental clarity will be lost too. However, there are many options to keep your mind sharp, and one of them is going back to school!
Whether you take a single course or want to work toward a degree, your education will help you maintain a healthy brain. Returning to school may even aid in the prevention of significant diseases that affect the elderly, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. If this fear is a reality to you, then these are strong reasons to pick up a book. Even if it means putting on those prescription reading glasses.
Continuing higher education online is a great way to add to your golden years. You could meet new people, start learning something new, find a way to connect with grandchildren, all while finishing your degree! If you’re worried about fitting in – don’t! Colleges and universities offer many classes geared toward non-traditional students.
Table of Contents
- The Case of Online Senior Students
- What Is Online School Like?
- Available Financing for Online Senior Students
- Online Degrees Best Suited for Senior Citizens
The Case of Online Senior Students
There are numerous advantages to returning to school as a senior citizen. However, it does not imply that doing so is the best option for everyone. Senior citizens are individuals with their own set of wants and desires.
Returning to school is not a decision that anyone should take lightly. This statement is especially true if you consider enrolling in an online degree program. Being knowledgeable and taking control of online learning platforms can be overwhelming. Make sure you are up to the task to learn twice: how to be an online student, then the coursework.
Do yourself a favor and take some time to analyze your options. Take time to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks before deciding. While the prospect of returning to school may evoke romantic or nostalgic memories of youth, don’t let your excitement prevent you from making sound decisions regarding your future.
Because your scenario is bound to be unique, the elements you’ll need to consider will differ. Even yet, there are a few things that all seniors should think about before enrolling in a senior online course.
Fresh graduates from high school attending a college usually don’t have many other obligations. College is simply the next natural step toward becoming a self-sufficient adult for many students.
However, for non-traditional students, the situation can be quite different. These non-traditional students frequently have jobs and familial obligations, making returning to school more difficult.
While the task isn’t impossible, you’ll need to take a close look at your existing calendar, as well as the other duties and people you’re responsible for daily. Then think about how returning to school will affect your daily life and those around you, including your spouses and children.
Talk to those who will be affected by your decision to return to school openly and honestly. Finally, come up with a plan as a group. If you have a clear plan for how things will go once you’re back in school, you’ll be a lot more confident in your decision.
Returning to school usually entails financial pressure, whether for a single course or a full degree program. Even if financial aid covers your degree, it is still your responsibility to raise funds and cover additional expenditures, such as fees, e-books, and other supplies you might need.
You should also factor in any potential income loss due to your decision to return to school. For example, will you have to quit your job or transition to a part-time schedule to pursue your education? Will you have to put your small business on hold while you pursue your education? Of course, there are various scenarios to consider. Still, these are the types of questions you’ll need to ask yourself before you can confidently pursue any online courses or degree programs.
Personal and Professional Goals
Determining why you’re thinking about going back to school in your golden years is one of the best ways to help you figure out what type of online program is best for you. Seniors are motivated to pursue higher education for various reasons, such as career change, advancement at work, and possibly even for the sake of learning. All these benefits are excellent reasons to enroll in an education course or degree program. Even so, it’s a good idea to assess your motivators to have a clear sense of what you aim to achieve with online classes.
College Enrollment for Senior Citizens
Enrolling older citizens in school is comparable to younger students; however, there may be additional criteria. In most circumstances, there will be an age restriction to enroll as a senior citizen in college. The minimum age varies by state and institution, although it is commonly 60 or 65 years old. This enrollment status entitles you to discounts, waivers, and resources that are just available to seniors citizens.
Senior citizens will go through the same admissions process as any other prospective student after reaching the minimum age criteria. The college or university will request a high school diploma or equivalent, letters of recommendation, and personal essays or letters of purpose to verify that students match specific minimal admissions criteria.
Some traditional student admittance requirements may be waived for senior citizens. College entrance exams scored such as the ACT or SAT, for example, usually are not required.
These are some general standards for admission to institutions and universities. Keep in mind that each institution retains the ability to define its own admissions requirements, which may vary from year to year. As a result, you should contact an admissions counselor at the institution you’re interested in attending for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
What Is Online School Like?
For many, the prospect of returning to school is unsettling, and the possibility of doing it online is even more daunting. These are typical concerns, and they are generally dispelled after you better understand the online learning environment. It is not as tough as you would believe to attend classes online.
Technical Knowledge Needed for Online Education
Some older adults are more at ease with digital technology than others. Before dismissing online courses because you lack computer skills, keep in mind that most online programs are pretty user-friendly.
Advances in distant learning technologies have made learning online simple and even enjoyable throughout the years. Typically, if you can do a Google search and utilize Facebook, you’ll be able to manage an online course just fine. Other abilities that will help you succeed in an online learning setting include:
- Typing/keyboard skills
- Microsoft Office proficiency (especially MS Word)
- Knowledge of online etiquette
- Email proficiency
- Ability to download and install software
Available Financing for Online Senior Students
Higher education programs for older people are usually provided for free or at a reduced cost. However, it depends on the institution and the program to which you apply.
Please keep in mind that the lower rates only apply to the program’s tuition. You may have to pay for your learning materials. Fortunately, there are various payment alternatives for online classes, while many of the options offered to older individuals are not available to traditional students.
You may have to pay additional fees to complete your study in addition to your tuition fees (if there are any). The school or any free tuition waiver program may not cover educational supplies such as textbooks, notebooks, writing tools, or calculators. You may also be required to pay application fees for the program of your choice.
For students enrolling in two-year and four-year colleges, the cost of books and materials typically ranges from $1,240 to $1,460. For online colleges, the cost of your school materials may be less than these averages. They might be considerably smaller if you’re only taking one or two classes and aren’t pursuing a degree or certificate.
If you need money for school supplies or tuition, a small personal loan can supply you with precisely what you need. Personal loans are accessible for almost any reason, and many financial institutions provide loans as low as $1,000.
A tax credit will not cover the cost of your schooling. However, it will lower the amount of income tax you must pay at the end of the year, allowing you to defray at least some of your educational expenses. You may be eligible for a tax refund if your tax credit decreases the amount of tax you must pay to less than zero.
The American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit are two federal education tax credits available to eligible applicants. Each credit has its eligibility conditions. Interested applicants must meet the following to be eligible for either:
- Qualified higher-education expenses must be paid by you, a dependent, or a third party.
- An interested student must be enrolled in an eligible educational institution to be eligible.
- You, your spouse, or a dependant mentioned on your tax return are all qualified students.
- Applicants cannot claim both credits in the same year.
What you need to know about the two tax credits is as follows:
- The American Opportunity Tax Credit
Only eligible students studying their first four years of higher education are eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). With the AOTC, you can obtain a credit of up to $2,500 per year. This credit is only available to students pursuing a degree or other recognized academic credentials; you cannot claim it if you only take individual courses.
If your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds $80,000, your AOTC will also be phased out progressively. If your MAGI is $90,000 or over, you won’t be eligible for the AOTC.
- Lifetime Learning Credit
The Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) is a $2,000 tax credit for lifelong learning. You can claim it once a year, and you can claim it for as many years as you like. If you match the conditions given above, you can claim it, but there are a few further limitations on who can claim the LLC.
If your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds $58,000, the amount of your LLC steadily decreases according to how far you’ve gone over the limit. You are unable to claim the credit if your MAGI is $68,000 or more.
You can claim the credit using Form 1098-T, which your educational institution should provide.
The best part about taking online classes as a senior is that you might not have to pay anything. Senior citizens now have access to free or heavily subsidized tuition at colleges and universities around the country.
Tuition waivers are available at many public colleges and universities for older persons who live in the state where the school is situated. You may apply some of these tuition waivers to the entire degree programs or specific courses. The institution’s requirements determine the age at which you are eligible for these waivers. Many colleges provide this financial aid to students who are 60 years old or older.
It’s vital to remember that tuition waivers only apply to class-related tuition expenses. They will not assist you in purchasing textbooks or other educational materials.
Schools may offer tuition waivers to a certain number of students each year, and they may limit when you can attend classes (such as in the fall or spring). It’s recommended to apply well in advance of the start of classes.
Check your school’s website’s financial assistance section to see whether they provide tuition waivers to seniors or other groups:
- Tuition waiver for seniors: Tuition waivers allow an older adult student to take lessons for free or at a reduced cost. Students above 60 are usually eligible for senior tuition waivers, while the minimum age varies by institution.
- Tuition waiver for social security disabled/retired individuals: Students who receive social security benefits due to a disability or retirement may be eligible for a tuition waiver at several colleges. Your eligibility is usually determined by your ability to demonstrate that you receive government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
- Tuition waiver for civil service-disabled/retired individuals: Tuition waivers may be available at some colleges for former government employees who obtain disability or pension benefits. Tuition waivers are also available for disabled veterans and first responders at many colleges.
Online Degrees Best Suited for Senior Citizens
Around the world, the life expectancy of humans is increasing with each year. In fact, the number of people aged 60 and up attending school or seeking education is growing faster than any other age group. Learning has become an essential gateway to improve the quality of life of older individuals.
On the other hand, senior citizens find it challenging to get the right degree because of today’s sophisticated technology and financing. To assist our seniors, College Cliffs has compiled a list of the top ten online degrees.
We aim to be transparent regarding the criteria we use to rate our degrees. When determining our ranking, we used the following factors:
- Weekly Average hours spent preparing for classes: Since senior learners get tired more accessible than traditional students, they need a degree that doesn’t demand long hours.
- Mean IQ: Most senior learners have plenty of life experiences and are probably smarter than traditional students. However, a challenging degree might stress them out more. We’ve included the average mean IQ so seniors can still learn without getting excessively stressed.
Here are the 10 Best Online Degrees for Seniors:
Weekly Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 20-25
Mean IQ: 117
Every day, the world becomes increasingly computer-dependent. Over half of the world’s population was online in 2018, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. A bachelor’s degree in business and technology remains one of the most in-demand and rewarding degrees you can present in today’s job interviews, with practically every facet of modern technology reliant on computers in some form.
The University of Georgia, Georgia’s flagship institution, is located in Athens. The Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges granted the school accreditation. The institution is part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which offers a wide range of courses, Luncheon Programs, and Shared Interest Groups for people aged 62 and up.
However, if interested senior students do not live in Georgia, they can continue their education for a degree through the university’s online programs. The Master of Business and Technology degree program is popular among senior citizens because it is specifically designed to reinforce IT skills and provide management experience.
Seniors with a background in Information Technology and small businesses can benefit from this program. This study will bridge the gap between business strategy and technical expertise.
It will allow senior students to work at their speed. Students can complete this master’s degree in as little as two years.
This degree will also benefit senior citizens with no prior experience in Information Technology or business. Imagine being able to manage technology (smartphones and computers) more effectively. Anyone can become a professional developer! You can improve your problem-solving skills and complex algorithms to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems in various industries, including cybersecurity, IT, games development, mobile, data science, and even healthcare. You can use all of these new bits of knowledge to start a business or assist others already in business.
Weekly Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 20-25
Mean IQ: 110
West Virginia University in Morgantown is known for its welcoming atmosphere and commitment to diversity. The university is also one of the few universities in the country that provides a varied selection of online courses to students who cannot attend classes on campus. The university online courses are available for nontraditional students to take at any time and from any location. The school offers financial aid for seniors.
The Higher Learning Commission has granted West Virginia University accreditation, ensuring the university’s overall quality. The HLC recently conducted a detailed examination of WVU to ensure that the institution continues to meet the HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation.
Non-traditional students can continue their education while balancing their work schedules. It’s also ideal for senior citizens who want to return to school and earn a diploma. The BS in Business Administration Major in General Business, offered by the university’s College of Business and Economics, is one of the online programs available for seniors.
You can expect a particular focus on:
- Critical business functions; entrepreneurship and leadership
- Business opportunities and problems analysis and interpretation
- Business theories and decisions analysis and implementation
In the courses that make up this online degree, senior learners will know how you effectively connect the many business principles to the global society to prepare for a job as an entrepreneur or a pacesetter in business. The course will also provide a solid basis to spring for higher study in business administration or other similar professions if that’s something students prefer.
Applicants will be assigned a personal program advisor once they have completed all of the program requirements. This person will be their school’s support system and will be with them for the course duration. They’ll answer any concerns students have about the curriculum, course selection, and almost anything else related to obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration from West Virginia University. If the learner’s spirits are low, they’ll be there to cheer them up!
Weekly Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 25
Mean IQ: 112
Based in San Diego, California, Ashford University has aimed to deliver high-quality, accessible, and creative educational programs to all students. The institution now uses technology to provide long-distance learners with online access to their studies.
The Senior College and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has granted Ashford University accreditation.
This is excellent news for nontraditional students or seniors, who want to finish their degrees or pursue a new field of study – the Bachelor of Arts in Health, and Human Services will appeal to individuals with a background and experience in health and wellness in particular. This program allows them to investigate the various aspects of wellbeing and how they relate to chronic illnesses.
This curriculum prepares students for successful careers in healthcare, education, and community organizing by combining information from several fields of study such as healthcare, mental health, public health, and bioethics through an interdisciplinary approach.
You’ll study community health, illness prevention, nutrition, and healthcare system mechanisms through a balanced blend of practice and theory. This will help you develop the skills, information, and mindset you’ll need to succeed in today’s complicated and rapidly changing healthcare industry. It will also guide you in comprehending the various public health models and theories and how to apply them to real-world issues.
Through lifestyle evaluation and the implementation of tailored wellness programs, lifelong learners will learn the best ways to improve health and wellness on an individual level.
Weekly Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 30
Mean IQ: 113
One of the universities that offer various senior citizen programs is George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. This university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSOC).
It also provides several online courses for the elderly, including a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Business Management degree.
The university’s master’s degree program in social work is meant to help achieve social justice through direct client care for people seeking a master’s degree. Graduates from this master’s degree can work in various settings, including family services, international government organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community development, overall health, and mental health.
This curriculum is aimed at students who want to use individual client interactions to advance social justice. After completing the MSW, students may sit for the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) tests. All discussed cultural and social diversity, human rights, economic fairness, human behavior, and social policy.
Although the Master of Social Work degree classes is online, students must complete numerous field practicums in their local area.
Electives may include Substance Abuse Interventions; Clinical Practice with Children and Families; Trauma and Recovery; and Integrated Behavioral Health Policy.
Weekly Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 15-20
Mean IQ: 100
Bryan University has consistently provided quality education since its inception. Degrees are available online for lifelong learners who want to satisfy their hunger for knowledge and pursue their interests.
Bryan University is sure to offer high-quality education, having obtained the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools’ nod to grant diplomas and associate degrees on campus and online (Springfield, MO, and Rogers, AR).
An Applied Exercise and Fitness Associate Degree is one of the distance-learning options for seniors to stay fit. This degree can help senior individuals who still desire to make a difference as fitness instructors and experts.
It provides a diverse range of learning opportunities, such as health and fitness training and live coaching. The online classes offer an interactive learning environment tailored to the individual needs of the senior students.
Aside from all of the job benefits, this degree can help seniors better their mental and physical health. Seniors who exercise have a higher immune and digestive function, lower blood pressure, better bone density, and a lower chance of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and several malignancies. This program will help you improve your mobility, flexibility, and balance.
Weekly Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 20-25
Mean IQ: 110
The University of Minnesota provides world-class online courses and programs that allow you to learn at your speed and in your environment. They have online programs to keep seniors motivated and on track, whether they aim to acquire a degree, better their job, or complete requirements.
The Higher Learning Commission has granted the University of Minnesota accreditation.
The Bachelor of Science in Accounting is one of the numerous degrees provided by the University of Minnesota. This degree is ideal not just for typical learners but also for nontraditional learners! Over the next few years, the accounting sector is likely to increase significantly. Accounting is an excellent alternative for seniors who wish to start a new career path because an online bachelor’s degree in accounting will allow you to discover several entry-level accounting positions.
Students who complete the online Bachelor of Science in Accounting will have the theoretical and analytical frameworks to operate effectively in public, private, or governmental accounting. It offers students both primary and sophisticated skills for assisting prospective clients and firms with financial reporting.
Small class sizes enable students to complete courses on-site and online, as well as take certification board exams to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), or Certified Internal Auditor through our school (CIA).
Accounting degrees have a wide range of applications. Because accountants are needed in almost every organization, you may work for a small firm, a huge corporation, a bank, or even the government.
Weekly Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 25-35
Mean IQ: 115
The University of Arkansas is the largest institution in Arkansas and the flagship school of the University of Arkansas System. This institution is a big fan of the local silver foxes, and they give them the chance to become “Senior Razorbacks.”
Following a ruling by the Higher Learning Commission’s Institutional Actions Council, the University of Arkansas remains an accredited institution of higher learning. Since 1924, the University of Alberta has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
One of their most favored degree for seniors is the Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing. The coursework in creative writing includes writing-intensive work, and you will write in many different genres to learn what you like.
You’ll also thoroughly examine great literature. This part of the degree will allow you to learn more about writing styles and take inspiration from other successful writers. The school will also allow you to observe other authors and help you explore your creative voice.
Elective courses allow you to explore other writing mediums, such as social media and internet blogging.
The degree program aims to teach you how to connect with publishing agencies, learn how to become a published author, and write for specific audiences to appeal to a publisher.
Senior citizens considering returning to school should consider creative writing as one of their most pleasing possibilities. It’s a flexible and enjoyable degree with a variety of employment options. Creative writing, especially for older persons with life experience, can be a stress reliever or a way to express yourself.
A creative writing degree will help you develop new abilities while studying something you enjoy if you are passionate about literature and writing.
Weekly Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 25-35
Mean IQ: 120
The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSO). Georgia Tech offers a program that allows seniors to enroll in graduate-level courses when space is available. Applicants should be 62 years old (at least), Georgia residents, and legally living in the United States to qualify.
The MS degree in computer science is one of the most popular graduate degrees among seniors. This MS degree will help you prepare for the ever-changing employment market. It can also assist you in earning credits toward a master’s degree in computer science, which has a high salary potential. Computer science is among the most promising fields, which will rise by 15% by 2026.
Coding and computer programming are taught as part of computer science education. You’ll also learn how to keep computers running smoothly. Fortunately, several computer science classes are online to allow seniors to fulfill general education requirements for a master’s degree if they choose to pursue one.
Coursework in computer science is very easily adaptable to an online program. Lectures may readily be viewed online, which can be beneficial because it allows you to rewatch the course if you miss something. You can ask questions on discussion forums, and you can learn at your own pace to prevent feeling overwhelmed.
You can pursue a variety of programming and cybersecurity professions with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Computer systems analysts, computer support specialists, and computer programmers are examples of computer science careers. These are rapidly expanding fields with excellent pay.
Consider a bachelor’s degree in computer science if you’re interested in technology and its expanding importance in today’s world. This profession is also ideal for someone looking for high-paying employment with a variety of possibilities.
Weekly Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 25-35
Mean IQ: 105
Arizona State University, based in Tempe, Arizona, is one of several colleges with a wide range of online programs and numerous courses and certificates for continuing and professional education. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has likewise prioritized lifelong learning.
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges & Schools has granted ASU Online regional institutional accreditation.
The online program of Social Entrepreneurship and Community Development Graduate Certificate may be valuable for senior individuals who plan to work in the nonprofit and social sectors. The transdisciplinary curriculum combines social entrepreneurship and innovative community development to give a foundation for investigating organizational and societal capacity building and positive transformation. The certificate program consists of 15 graduate credit hours of instruction.
This certificate can lead to jobs as a social and community service manager, a community expert, or a child and family social worker.
If, however, you decide that this program is not best for you, you can message the website and ask for help. Like others on this list, the school understands how daunting and intimidating college transition is, particularly for seniors. As a result, they offer dedicated online career advisors and life coaches to assist senior students with everything, such as registration, course selection, and general guidance.
Weekly Average Hours Spent Preparing for Class: 15-25
Mean IQ: 100
You’ve probably heard of Harvard University’s stellar reputation. This institution is often regarded as the best in the world. However, it is quite difficult to gain admission to this university. Only 4.8 percent of applicants are accepted. But regardless of its low acceptance rate, plenty of students are interested in applying to this university.
Fortunately, if you are a senior, you can manage to enroll in a special program designed for you.
With its Institute for Learning in Retirement, Harvard University leads the way in continuing education offerings for retirees. This allows its members to join a shared commitment to learning across various topic sectors, allowing them to gain new experiences and insights. It is, however, only available to individuals who live in the vicinity of 34 Concord Avenue.
But, senior students interested in long-distance study can take advantage of the leading university’s online courses. An online executive program called Leadership, Organizing, and Action: Leading Change is one of its programs. The Harvard Kennedy School created this program for those interested in organizing projects worldwide, such as leaders of civic associations, advocacy groups, and nonprofits.
Other HarvardX online courses, ranging from Principles of Biochemistry and Masterpieces of World Literature to Financial Accounting and Leaders of Learning, are also available to senior students.
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