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5 Ways Parents and Adult Learners Can Earn College Credit

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It's not easy to be a parent going back to school. It can be a juggling act to balance family life with academics and possibly work responsibilities too. However, earning a college degree can be an important first step toward improving your income, getting your dream job, and supporting your family. 

In looking at how parents can balance kids and a college degree, we identified key strategies that can help parents succeed:

  • Register for classes that meet your need for flexibility and efficiency.
  • Figure out how classes and homework will fit into the household schedule.
  • Get smart about money by opting for affordable classes and maximizing financial aid.
  • Build a support system with learning resources and mentors to keep you on track.

What you do during your classes is only one part of your success story. How you earn your college credits matters too. For example, flexible higher education programs can save you time and money. On the other hand, adult learners could struggle when taking costly college classes that have rigid schedules and no learning resources. 

If you're an adult learner or a parent returning to college, these are the five best ways to earn college credit in your spare time. 

1. OneClass Booster Classes

Flexible: For parents attending college, class flexibility is key to success. When you earn college credit through OneClass Booster Classes, you can make college classes work with your schedule. Classes don't have a fixed weekly schedule, so students can choose what's most convenient for them. And online classes and rolling schedules make it easy to get started. 

Optimized learning tools: As a parent, you don't have time to waste. OneClass offers a personalized learning experience so students can make the most of each hour spent studying. The Booster Classes use AI-optimization that helps students spend more time studying the concepts they struggle with while accelerating through topics they understand. Plus, learning support comes included with each class purchase so you can text with a tutor or sign up for a one-on-one tutoring session. 

Affordable: OneClass costs about 80 percent less than a traditional college class. It's just $330 per class, and students earn three transferable college credits that can count toward a degree at most U.S. colleges and universities. You can save money by starting your education with low-cost introductory classes on OneClass and then completing your degree elsewhere. 

2. Earn College Credit for Life Experience

Opportunities vary by college: Adult learners may be able to earn college credit for material learned in the workforce or through independent study. However, opportunities for work/life credit vary between colleges. For example, the University of Maryland is one school that offers multiple pathways for awarding college credit including workplace learning, military training, professional courses or vocational training programs.

Requirements are set by each program: Parents who are returning to college will face a wide variety of requirements on how you'll demonstrate your experience. You may need to share a resume, show a portfolio, write an essay about your accomplishments, take a prior learning assessment (PLA), or get references from your workplace. 

3. Test Out Of College Classes

Several tests available: If you already have in-depth knowledge about college subjects, you may be able to earn college credits through an exam without ever taking a class. One of the most popular testing programs is CLEP (the College-Level Examination Program), which is run by the College Board and has 34 subject exams available. Additional test opportunities include International Baccalaureate (IB), UExcel credits, Excelsior College, and DSST standardized tests for military members.

Credit transfer rates vary: CLEP exams are accepted at about 2,900 schools, but it's a good idea to check your institution's policies before pursuing CLEP college credits. You want to confirm that the school accepts CLEP credits and they can count toward your degree requirements. You may also need to earn a certain score in order for the test to count.

4. Community College

More traditional learning system: When attending community college, classes usually will have a standard structure of defined class times and semester schedules. This can be challenging for parents who need more flexibility in their schedules. Missing classes can mean students fall behind, get poorer grades, or could even drop out of college.

Pathways to in-state universities: Many community colleges have relationships with the public colleges in the state. This could mean there are already established pathways to continue your education at an in-state school after completing your associate degree at a community college.

Affordable: Community college courses are generally more affordable than credits earned at a four-year school, and some states offer free tuition with financial aid. Even if you plan to earn a four-year degree, you can pay less for introductory classes at a community college and then transfer the credits to a four-year school to complete your bachelor's degree. 

5. Programs for Adult Learners

Unique opportunities: Some schools have degree programs specifically geared toward the needs of adult learners. These opportunities will vary by region and school, but most prioritize the flexibility that parents need. This could mean more night classes, fast-track degrees, and additional scheduling flexibility. 

Community of non-traditional students: Because these programs focus on adult learners, fellow students could be facing similar challenges of completing their degree while raising children. Advisors and campus activities could also be in line with the needs of adult learners. 

OneClass Booster Classes are one of the easiest ways for parents to earn college credits in their spare time. Find out how personalized online classes can help you to achieve your education goals.

image attribution: Ilona - stock.adobe.com

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