Choosing the right Type of University for Older Students

It is clear that the older student presents a different challenge to any institution and has different expectations compared to the typical fresher just out of high school. With age comes a wealth of experience that can be utilized in a classroom setting and should not be left untapped. In addition, the older student may be more critical of the systems in place that should facilitate their learning.

Older students are more likely to be self-learners. Some would have been to college previously. Others may have years of experience in the workforce and would have learnt to think on their own. They would have become adept at finding solutions to their problems and accessing information to answer questions. As a result such a student may gain more from a learning style that facilitates a more proactive or participatory role to learning. These students may also benefit most from a teaching model which allows for independent study. As an older student, it is therefore important that you investigate the faculty and philosophy of the department of interest. Specifically, check the aims and methods proposed for your program.

Some universities also have good student representation for mature students. These are usually organizations that make a priority of dealing with the unique issues faced by those at this stage of life. They will be familiar with issues related to family and marriage, the economic challenges of reduced income, medical issues more prevalent at this stage and the social and recreational needs of older students.

Older students may also find that some universities have more flexible schedules. For example, investigate the possibility of online, evening and weekend attendance. This will facilitate their need to juggle a job and class schedules, thereby maintaining a reasonable income at a stage when they are likely to have significant out-of-school responsibilities. Family, church and other social obligations will often make conventional attendance impossible. It is equally important to consider those institutions which offer 2 year as opposed to the typical 4 year programs. For older students the former is often the more practical choice.

It is therefore important to take the time to thoroughly evaluate many universities before making a decision. The typical issues of the standard of the university, the availability of the desired program, location and cost will still be relevant. However, for older students, the other factors outlined above will become increasingly important to their success.

Yours for Learning