3 Issues Non-Traditional Students Can Overcome When Working with Technology
Let’s face it. Going back to college later in life can present its share of challenges. The decision also offers concrete advantages, but if you’re worried about the technological obstacles you might confront as an older student, there are steps you can take to overcome them. Even if you have some catching up to do, getting past tech-related stumbling blocks is easier than you might think. Here are some of the main issues to keep in mind and what to do about them.
1. America, Online
The Internet revolution is here to stay. More and more, aspects of our lives are moving online – just consider how much ordinary events like banking, shopping, and even keeping in touch with family and friends have changed over the last twenty or so years. Chances are, you’ve not only personally witnessed but also participated in this radical shift. In fact, nearly nine out of ten adults believe that “technology changes everything.”
Education is no exception. An increasing number of students, both traditional and non-traditional, are enrolling in online college degree programs or pursuing continuing adult education to take advantage of the flexibility and effectiveness of online learning. For older students, going back to school by way of an online education can feel unfamiliar and even intimidating. If you feel similarly, remember that pursuing your degree online is just another example of how we’re harnessing the power of the Internet to make life better. In that sense, it’s not so unusual after all.
2. Mind the (Experience) Gap
One advantage that younger students may have when it comes to technology is experience. The traditional college-aged student today may have been using computers and tech devices their whole life. These tools have become second nature to younger generations. If you, on the other hand, are old enough to remember a time when music came in physical packages, “the cloud” was just a cloud, and school only took place at specific times and locations, you might feel a little behind the curve when it comes to using technology.
The good news is that technology is maturing and becoming easier to use all the time, from online platforms to the devices they run on. This maturation is paired with older Americans’ growing adoption of and familiarity with new technology. For example, well over half of older Americans are Internet users, and as the Pew Research Center reports, those who are tend to find that “digital technology often becomes an integral part of their daily lives.” The key takeaway is that it’s never too late or too hard to expand your tech skills and join the Internet-enabled population of learners and workers.
3. Master Microsoft Office
Of course, actually sitting down at the keyboard to work on a school task is where the rubber meets the road. For non-traditional students, simply understanding the ins and outs of the different software programs you’ll use for assignments can be a potential obstacle. Word processing for papers, spreadsheets for statistics or accounting classes, and even presentation software for group and solo projects are all technology tools that a tech-savvy student needs to be familiar with.
You may find yourself working extensively with Microsoft Office applications – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – if you haven’t already used them in the workforce. Given the ubiquity and effectiveness of Microsoft Office for modern schools and businesses, it’s a good idea to know some of the tips and tricks for making the most of Office.
All in all, returning to school as a non-traditional student doesn’t have to be daunting, and that’s equally true where technology is concerned. As long as you take a positive attitude and understand what kind of weaknesses you have that may need shoring up, it’s easy to see technology not as an adversary, but as a true asset to support learning today.
Written by Ashford University staff.