Breaking Barriers In Higher Education


Traditionally earning a college degree meant spending four to five years in a classroom, like a prison sentence. Progress was measured by time served, or credit hours completed. Seat time took precedence over knowledge gained or proficiency.

Economic trends and a marketplace skills gap are placing increasing pressure on higher education institutions to break out of the seat time model. Emerging technology and a renewed focus on the experience of the student has initiated a reform. Educators like Dr. Thomas Stewart are disrupting the landscape of higher education to better meet the needs of today’s student with a more convenient, accessible and affordable solution.

Online learning platforms are breaking down the walls of the traditional model and making it possible for working adult to go back to school and finally earn their college degree regardless of age, location, ethnicity or economic status.

1. Accessibility= Earn A Degree Regardless Of Time, Place or Pace

Today’s student is less interested in frat parties and more focused on work-life balance and mobile accessibility. They don’t have time for outdated factory-style education systems. Ones in which the needs of the student are assumed identical to their neighbors, thereby forcing everyone to learn at the same pace, in the same place and at the same time.

Traditional classroom-based education involves adjusting the level of study to the median ability of the people in the room. Students who learn faster are quickly bored, and those who learn slower are left behind.

The architecture of today’s technology-assisted online learning environment is built around the student experience. It is tied directly to the needs of the student. Previously acquired knowledge can be applied directly to coursework and assignments. Since each student enrolls with a different level of understanding or experience, tests are scheduled by the student, whenever they are ready.

The online modular structure  offers round the clock accessibility, like a 24-hour virtual tutor. At Patten, from enrollment to graduation, students have a dedicated student advisor to help answer questions, set goals, select courses, understand university policies and requirements and keep the student on track.

2. Flexibility = Earn A Degree With NO Work-School Conflicts

As a working student, time is money. Going back to school must translate into usable career skills that can be applied directly to your current profession or provide the necessary credentials to enter into a new position or industry with a competitive advantage.

The flexibility of online learning allows the adult student to gain the training and knowledge that employers are looking for without sacrificing precious time making money. The student chooses the best times to learn and plans classes and study time around work schedules and family life. When life happens and the week gets busy, students have the flexibility to take a break from studies and return when things calm down.

3. Affordability = Earn A Degree Without A Mountain Of Debt

Student debt is at an all-time high and businesses’ expectations for job preparedness are even higher. Postsecondary skills and credentials are the entry price for well-paying jobs. But is paying over $20,000 a year worth the investment for a working adult with a family to support?

The answer is NO. From 2005 to 2012, student loan debt for those 30 & under more than doubled, from $144 billion to more than $322 billion. Graduating college with the burden of debt makes it more likely that you will accept a lower job offer to meet your bills. Joining the ranks of millions of Americans currently underemployed.

Pursuing higher education is the most important decision a student can make to improve the future. With Only 29% of college undergraduates fitting the mold of a traditional full-time student today, the lines between higher education and professional career training are blurring.

The growth of postsecondary career education over the last decade is nothing short of remarkable, pointing to a significant shift in the nature of undergraduate education programs and students. Having a college degree can mean the difference between promotion and stagnation. Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree online helps even the academic playing field for working adults by eliminating the hurdle of time, place, and pace. And opens the door to a brighter future.

If you enjoyed this article, you should also read: