Adult Learners And The Issues They Face When Returning To College

1373 words - 6 pages

Adult Learners and the Issues They Face When Making a Decision to Attend College
Adult learners returning to college at some point in their lives is not a new concept in today’s society. Practically since the establishment of institutions of higher education, the class of student known as the non-traditional student has existed. There is no exacting definition of what a non-traditional student is, but most can agree that one is generally over the age of 24, have not enrolled in post-secondary education immediately after high school, have dependents other than a spouse or are a single parent, work full time while enrolled, or are financially independent from their parents (Kenner & ...view middle of the document...

I. Bill. Fortunately, he was able to secure a position with the fledgling Global Security branch of a Fortune 500 corporation, one in which a degree in Security Management will allow him to advance. In his particular case, Paul chose to return to school for a mixture of reasons.
Once the reasons for a return to school are determined and the decision has been made, an adult student is faced with the challenges of actually attending college. In an article by Liza Porteus Viana (2011), Mary B. Hawkins, president of Bellevue University, identified three primary challenges adults face when returning to school: a disconnect in skills learned vs. skills needed on the job, time and work commitments, and fear and proximity. Hawkins believes that the disconnect between skills learned and skills needed on the job is frustrating because people can find themselves without a job, settling for a job that is not personally fulfilling, or ending up in a job that will not lead to further advancement (Viana, 2011). Paul, from the earlier example, found that all three of these frustrations applied to him. Compared to a person entering college right after high school, or during their early 20s, today’s adult learners have much more responsibility in regards to their personal and professional schedules. If these responsibilities can be successfully balanced with those of a school commitment through the use of various scheduling techniques and study skills, an adult learner has a much better chance of obtaining a degree. Viana (2011) has pointed out that fear is one of the major reasons for adult learners not to return to school, especially if it has potentially been decades since their last academic experience. Once this psychological hesitation has been overcome, however, adult students will tend to accomplish much academically due to the application of the strong ethics that are used within their personal lives and professional careers.
Adult college students are ultimately faced with a final question when the choice has been made to attend or return to school: should they attend at a brick-and-mortar campus, or register for distance learning or on-line e-learning courses? Indeed there are benefits to both methods of obtaining a higher education. Attending school at an established college campus offers the advantage of regimented, scheduled courses that are highlighted by direct interaction with instructors and fellow students. For those that need the “physical” sense of actually walking into a building and sitting down behind a desk while taking notes and using the opportunity to ask questions of and obtain clarification from professors and students, this very well might be the best option for some adult learners. However, the traditional method of obtaining a degree is not a viable option for a large portion of non-traditional learners. In this case, adult students find that distance learning is the best path available to them. The Southern Regional Education...

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