Older students are returning to college for many reasons. Each person’s reason will be unique to his or her life, experience and circumstances.
One reason that older students are returning to college in such numbers, is that universities are now recognizing and catering for the special needs of adult students and welcoming adult students. Many British universities now offer part time, evening and modular courses more suited to the adult student, who may need to juggle family, job and domestic responsibilities with their studies.
Some universities have a crèche on campus so that the adult student with small children can study knowing their little one is properly cared for nearby. Supervisors and tutors are more au fait with the needs and difficulties of older students and are more understanding when life intervenes in their studies and will help students find a mutually agreeable solution to any problem. When M found that she could not fit in one compulsory topic with the difficulties of caring for an elderly relative, a full time job and a home, M’s tutor was extremely helpful. He arranged that she could research and write an extended essay for the semester’s work instead of attending lectures.
Some older students go back to college because they need a degree or diploma to advance in their present career. Others because they want take their career in an entirely new direction and do something new.
Other students may not have been to college before and now need or want a degree. They may have left school at the earliest opportunity and gone to work. Although now it is normal for most youngsters to go to university it was not always so. Many youngsters did not have the luxury of choosing whether to go to university or not. In the bad old days, only 5% of British young people went to university, those from wealthy families or the truly brilliant. This group may have gone through life regretting the lack of a degree and have decided to put it right.
Some adult students go to college for the sheer love of learning and acquiring knowledge, or to discover more about a topic in which they have always been interested.
In troubled economic times, sadly some adult students go to college because they have lost their jobs or they feel that their jobs are insecure. They are acquiring the skills and qualifications that they will need to get a new job.
No matter what the reasons that adult students are going to university, their numbers are increasing rapidly. British universities are actively welcoming older students by recognizing their special needs. Older students need no longer be frightened to go to college it is not now a scary and mysterious place and it is no longer the preserve of teenagers.