Explaining the Trend of Older Students Returning to College

There is an abundance of "nontraditional" students – those students who return to university or college after an extended time away. These people often have jobs, families, or even businesses of their own. Some are already retired and take advantage of universities’ senior discounts. Older students have more life experience, and they have had more time than traditional students to determine their areas of interest and expertise. Older students often are the "wiser" students by default, and they return to school for a variety of reasons.

Job or Career Opportunities
Older students often want to pursue a change in career or to encourage a salary/responsibility boost in their current occupation. These students enter into undergraduate or graduate school programs to get the necessary skills and information to succeed in their chosen career path. Sometimes, these degrees are paid for by employers. Other times, the students are self-motivated and understand the positive repurcussions of a higher degree.

Following Dreams
Many times, older students have had to delay their educational pursuits because of other responsibilities. Perhaps raising a family, working to pay off a mortgage, or simply saving enough money for university or college put their degree on hold. These people have worked long and hard to get to the point where they can attend or re-enroll in a degree program. These older students are making one of their lifelong goals and dreams come true.

Often, people don’t consider how education is an intensive process of self-improvement. It’s true that no one can ever know all there is to know, and attending classes at a college or university can only improve a person’s understanding of the world around him or her. Whether to hone skills of a favorite hobby, like photography, or to learn about a lifelong passion, like astronomy or art history, the segment of the population who return to university to gain knowledge are an often-overlooked group of people who are developing their minds for no other purpose than the joy it brings them.

Seniors attend university classes all the time to acquire education that wasn’t available to them when they were younger. It may be that responsibilities, like raing families, got in the way of attending college classes, the affordability of university was a problem, or the level of education that they were seeking was simply not available to them at the right time because of differences in social policies and social norms. Seniors are taken advantage of their retirement years to make up for lost time in their personal educations.

The learning process never stops. More and more people are realizing that, whatever their age, they can benefit in their personal lives and in their careers from returning to university or college whatever age they may be.