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It's never too late: North Carolina adult education goes online

January 18, 2012 by Beth Boyett |

It's never too late to learnWhen you're younger than twenty-something, you can't imagine it'll ever happen. But one day you wake up and discover I'm an adult! Yikes! Where did time go and why didn't I take advantage of my opportunities? Is it too late to get my education?

You're not alone in asking those questions. Check out these stats: in North Carolina, roughly 67% of adults do not have a college degree. Of those, nearly 41% have completed high school only. It's projected that over the next 15 years, the number of workers with college degrees will actually decrease due to the double whammy of  fewer young people earning college degrees and the increasing numbers of baby-boomers who are retiring (and they're the most highly educated generation ever).

There's good news, though. Higher education is closer than you think. The North Carolina Community College system has 58 campuses across the state - at least one within 30 miles of every citizen. Adult basic education, technical, vocational, college transfer, and general education are their strong suits. Additionally, the 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina system offer a wealth of opportunities for adult students at prices that are considered a real bargain. The current average tuition with room and board is about $12,600 for residents.

Of course, adults often face challenges (like work and family) that prohibit a traditional on-campus education. The commute can be time-consuming and class schedules inflexible. Fortunately for 21st century learners, higher education is now online and students can attend anytime/anywhere. The online option is not only more convenient, but also saves on the commuting and the tuition, since room and board are not factors. At UNCG, for example, the per credit hour cost of an online course is only $128.07.

Each year, more and more students are choosing online for higher education. According to the most recent report by the Sloan Consortium, online enrollment is growing at a 10 percent annual rate (compared to 2 percent growth for total enrollment), and now nearly a third of all college students take at least one online course. Here in North Carolina, online instruction is being used for everything from providing free tax support to worker retraining to MBA programs.

Explore your options today. Start with a visit to the UNC online website, the NC Community College Virtual Learning site, and to the UNCG online homepage.

As an adult learning, what sort of unique challenges do you face in obtaining a college degree? Do you think the right online program can solve those issues?

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