The 7 Biggest Challenges of Adult Learners

The 7 Biggest Challenges of Adult Learners

Our list of the fears, misnomers and realities of being an adult student. 

By Jenni Valentino, Contributing Writer 

The average American college student isn’t as fresh-faced as before. Due largely to lingering, recession-fueled job market competition, nontraditional students are going back to college in droves. 

Adults older than 25 who are returning to school after a hiatus from education – usually spent in the workforce, serving in the military or raising children – are the fastest-growing student population. A 2012 study by National Student Clearinghouse found more than one-third of college students to be older than 25, and The National Center for Education Statistics found that “In recent years, the percentage increase in the number of students age 25 and over has been larger than the percentage increase in the number of younger students.”
This trend, however, doesn’t necessarily provide adult learners with a feeling of safety in numbers. Instead, they often feel afraid, alone and discouraged by the prospect of taking the first step back into education.
Fortunately, by recognizing the initial challenges adult learners face and implementing the resources to help combat them, your school can provide the helping hand a nontraditional student needs to make a seamless transition back into education. 
Some of the biggest challenges facing adult students include: 

1.) A perceived lack of time. Balancing a job, family and other responsibilities is challenging enough for most adults. The prospect of adding in a higher education courseload can seem impossible. However, the distance and part-time options available at most colleges and universities can make the time commitment of higher education much less daunting. While studies have shown the more credits a student carries at once the more likely he or she is to complete his or her degree, a full-time schedule just isn’t feasible for many adults. Your career college probably already offers some of the most efficient degree programs on the market – help your nontraditional students find the one that fits their schedule and career goals. Encourage them to reach out for a course syllabus ahead of time so they can prepare (themselves and those around them) in advance for upcoming busy days and weeks.

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September/October 2014 Career College Central Magazine, starting page 14


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