Saint Leo’s Online Degree in Business Administration Offers Big Benefits to Adult Learners

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New research reveals that pursuing a college degree helps adult students stay sharp later in life.

Saint Leo University’s online programs give students access to well-regarded programs, distinguished faculty and an environment that fosters critical thinking.

A college education can do more than boost I.Q. It might actually lengthen life span. New research reported January 2012 in The New York Times proves that higher education can actually help preserve mental health in old age, and help older Americans live longer. Continuing education programs, such as Saint Leo University’s online degree in business administration, online psychology degree and online sociology degree, provide an opportunity for adult learners to keep their minds sharp throughout their careers and well into retirement.

The New York Times article, by Patricia Cohen, references a landmark study known as “Midlife in the U.S.”, or Midus. Scientists surveyed more than 7,000 Americans aged 25-74 to collect information about Americans’ physical and mental health. The ongoing study, now in its third decade, allows investigators to track changes in people’s cognitive abilities over time. Researchers are finding that the more education a subject has, the better they perform on cognitive testing—in fact, they perform as well as people up to 10 years younger.

A Changing Student Profile

Saint Leo, a Catholic, liberal arts university in central Florida, has designed its curriculum to fit the needs of a diverse population of learners. In addition to its Tampa-area campus for traditional college-aged students, the university maintains 33 education centers throughout the U.S., as well as regionally accredited online degree programs. The average undergraduate enrolled in Saint Leo's online programs is 34 years old—a student age that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), is quickly becoming the norm. NCES, the primary federal agency for collecting and analyzing education data in the U.S., reports that 38 percent of college students are 25 years of age or older.

Higher Ed Nurtures a Healthy Mind

Most students who enter college right after high school are working toward the ultimate prize for their hard-earned degree—an entry job in their chosen field. But at a later life stage, what is the value of earning a bachelor’s degree?

Adults who enroll in an undergraduate program have varying motivations, from earning a promotion to acquiring new skills for a career change. Drawing from research in cognitive psychology, Cohen's New York Times article offers an additional reason older students should consider a college education: It can help keep their minds sharp into their golden years.

The rigorous mental workouts students tackle through coursework and exams have a far-reaching impact on health, especially during retirement years. While students study and sweat over an accounting exam, they’re increasing the brain’s neural circuits, safeguarding cognitive faculties and even protecting themselves against dementia.

Online Classes Cater to the Needs of Adult Learners

Because work and family responsibilities only seem to grow more complex over time, it’s not always realistic for adult learners to attend in-person classes on campus. Saint Leo University has developed a range of flexible options for earning an associate, bachelor's or master's degree, ranging from online to weekend and evening programs.

Saint Leo has been at the forefront of online education for more than a decade, with popular offerings including an online degree in business administration, a criminal justice degree online, online MBA programs, and online degrees in various liberal arts and education fields. Online courses offer continuous opportunities for students to exercise their brains: Students expand reasoning skills through engaging with peers and professors in message board discussions. They alter the way they process information each time they learn a new digital learning tool. And they improve their capacity to retain knowledge with every online examination completed.

“Saint Leo University’s online programs give students access to well-regarded programs, distinguished faculty and an environment that fosters critical thinking,” says Kathryn McFarland, Vice President of Enrollment and Online Programs at Saint Leo. “Our online students work from the same curriculum as our traditional students. It’s demanding. They also connect deeply with other students in their classes as they learn from each others’ life experiences.”

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo ranks as one of the top universities in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” list. Saint Leo’s traditional liberal arts campus, located 30 miles north of Tampa, educates more than 1,900 students. Total enrollment across its campus, regional education centers, and online programs exceeds 15,000. Among the oldest Catholic universities in Florida, Saint Leo is one of the nation's 10 leading providers of higher education to the U.S. military, and is a nationally recognized leader in online education.

To learn more about Saint Leo’s online degree in business administration, visit http://online.saintleo.edu/academics/bachelors-programs/online-degree-in-business-administration.aspx.

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Jo-Ann Johnston
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