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Adult Learners

Although you may be hesitant about entering college as an adult, it's never too late. You might be thinking you're not young enough. Maybe you're not sure what to study, or you might just be overwhelmed and unsure where to begin. Many other students have felt the same, only to find success once they began.

While it may seem like everyone on campus is in their late teens or early twenties, right out of high school and just starting in life, the majority of students are "nontraditional" in some way. In fact, some studies indicate that students 18 to 22 years old living on campus full time make up less than 20% of all U.S. college students. The rest are adult learners.

Real Advice from Real People

More and more adults are returning to school and earning a degree. So what's it like to be an adult learner? Jeremy gives some insight and shares his advice to other returning adults.

Creating a Timeline

As an adult learner, you might have a different timeline than the traditional college student. For example, you may earn a bachelor's degree in less than four years if you're taking advantage of flexible schedules or accelerated courses. Or, it might take you longer than four years if you attend part time or need to take time off for work or family needs.

When you plan your college career, consider:

  • If you'll attend classes full time or part time.
  • What type of degree you want to earn.
  • Whether you have any transferable credits.

    • You may be able to use credits earned previously.
    • The college might grant you credit for work experience.
    • Based on your experience, you may be able to opt out of some general education requirements.

If you're not sure, don't worry. Colleges have people on hand to help you plan for your college education.

Set up meetings with:

  • An admission officer to discuss:
    • Admission requirements.
    • Deadlines for applications and other required paperwork.
    • Any credits you've already earned. (Bring your old transcripts and resumes.)
    • Special seminars, workshops or welcome days for nontraditional students.
    • Other programs, like married student housing or daycare, you're interested in.
  • An advisor from the program you're interested in to talk about:
    • Requirements for entering the program and for graduation.
    • How your class schedule will fit in with your other commitments.
  • A financial aid officer to discuss your options for financial assistance.
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