Considerations and Obstacles for Adult Students

  • Scheduling and Time Management
  • Financial Resources
  • Academic Records
  • Connecting with Peers
  • Adapting to a Modern Classroom

College is a challenging environment for students of any age, which is why attending can be such a valuable experience that inspires personal growth and academic achievement. However, people who choose to go or return to college as a mature adult can face slightly different obstacles than students fresh out of high school. Most of these challenges can be addressed with relative ease as long as students manage their expectations and prepare themselves ahead of time.

Related resource: Top 10 Online Colleges for Adults

1. Scheduling and Time Management

Every student struggles to manage their time at least a few times during their years at college, but older adults often have more obligations than they did in their younger years. Ongoing employment, families and other responsibilities can complicate school scheduling, especially when essential courses are only available at limited intervals or times. Classes with flexible hours, like those held online or at nights, are often a staple for working adult students.

2. Financial Resources

Students entering college right out of high school often enjoy the opportunity to apply for scholarships and loans to fund their academic venture. Many older students are held back by the costs of courses, books and other expenses associated with going back to school. Finances can limit some educational choices, but many adults returning to school can access programs or other options that help make the experience more affordable.

3. Academic Records

Many people attend college for the first time as older adults, but there are plenty of others who have partial or previous degrees from years ago. This can actually become an administrative burden when applying to schools or programs that require previous transcripts. Students may need to take extra steps to get copies of their original records or seek an administrative relief policy to circumvent this obstacle, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

4. Connecting with Peers

This challenge can be more debilitating as a source of anxiety or hesitation than an actual impediment, but it is an important issue for many older students in a traditional academic environment. Sitting in class surrounding by younger peers can be a source of embarrassment for some attendees, which may encourage them to skip or avoid classroom environments. Even though if there is an obvious age gap, older students can engage and interact with their classmates successfully as long as they approach the experience with a positive attitude.

5. Adapting to a Modern Classroom

Every adult struggles to keep up with new technologies, ideas, and methods as they get older, but this can be particularly inhibiting in a classroom setting. Many modern degrees involve frequent use of computers and internet technology, with many professions requiring a much more advanced understanding of programming and computing. Some returning students also face challenges adapting to new methods of education compared to their previous academic experiences.

There’s no doubt that older college attendees have a few extra obstacles compared to their younger peers, but they also have the benefit of more experience and a clearer view of what they want in life. The challenges of being an adult student can also help make the experience that much more valuable and enriching for those who want to get the most out of their degree.