College for adults

Colleges are luring older students with “extras like on-campus child care, evening office hours, and commuter lounges,” writes the Boston Globe.

Broadly defined as financially independent, working adults, nontraditional students age 25 and up now make up 38 percent of postsecondary enrollment, compared with 28 percent in 1970, according to US Department of Education estimates. On many campuses, they have become the majority. Only about a quarter of the nation’s 14.9 million undergraduates fit the ”traditional” mold of enrolling right out of high school, attending full time, and relying on their parents’ purse strings.

Many people drop in and out of college for years in pursuit of a degree.

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  1. And I say, it’s a good thing.

    Generally, the non-traditional students I’ve had have –

    been better at time-management

    have more of a life perspective (A former-military student who got a C in my class – he admitted, he just had difficulty with the subject despite trying hard – made the comment that ‘once you’ve been shot at, a bad grade doesn’t seem like such a big deal’)

    been more likely to speak up to “misbehaving” or “disrespectful” traditional students

    less likely to sicc their parents on me when they earn a grade that disappoints them. (More likely to accept that at least part of a poor grade is their own doing and it’s not all “the lousy prof”)

    Child care is a BIIIIIIIG deal. We have a lot of students who are single parents on my campus and we don’t have campus child-care (I wish we did; when the parents have child-care conflicts they bring their kids to class – although it’s admirable that they don’t want to miss class, there are times when we discuss things not entirely appropriate for “young ears.” And of course if the child has a low sitting-still quotient, they can get distracting).

  2. A loud and hearty Amen to Rick’s comment. I often teach the core finance course for my college of business. It requires a good deal of background knowledge (math and basic accounting). The non-traditional students are often weak in these pre-requisite subjects (many took their math 10 years ago).

    Despite their subject weaknesses and other time constraints (job, family, etc…), they’re almost always in the top of the class. Invariably, they are aggressive in asking for help and advice and (unbelievably) they actually take the advice given and put it into practice.

    Plus, they get my cultural references!

    Any time I see more than a little grey hair in the audience on the first day of class, I know it’sll be an o.k. semester.

  3. I wanted to see the country when I was 21 so I left college and drove an 18 wheeler cross country. It was a great job for a single guy. I was able to go about everywhere in the US. It was wonderful. I quite driving to go back to school after I had been everywhere I wanted to go. Driving gave me a good perspective of what the real world was about. While in school I could really see the difference between those of us that were older and the students that were still using mom and dad’s credit cards. Real world experiences make you appreciate an education. It was hard to go back. There was a 5 year gap between taking Cal I and Cal II, but I got a degree and a good job.

  4. tsiroth says:

    My husband had a 10 year gap between Cal I and Cal II. This spring he will graduate with a double major B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science, and a 4.2 (not a typo) GPA, while working nights 40 hours a week. He has taken 15 credit hours each semester.

    To be honest, I’m mostly posting this just to brag (I’m incredibly proud of him). But it has been interesting the enormous gaps in maturity and responsibility between him (at 31) and his 20 year old classmates. Especially on issues of time management. Many of his classmates complain they “have no time” even though they aren’t working. They have lots of time, they just don’t spend it wisely.