Ways to Support Older College University Students Nontraditional

College students come in all shapes and sizes. No longer does the description of a typical student fit the profile of a post high school graduate and young twenty-something. The description of a college student has significantly evolved over the years. In today’s classrooms you’ll find students of various ages.

More and more adult students are heading back to college for a myriad of reasons. It may be they need to update skills to maintain employment or it could be they’ve hit the plateau in their field and need additional education to remain competitive.

Another reason you’ll find more adult students in the classroom is increasingly due to the expansion of learning opportunities which are offered. With the flexibility offered, students can successfully balance a family, job and school due to the various programs offered by most universities.

If someone you know has taken the plunge and gone back to school to pursue that long awaited degree, you may be wondering what you can do to support them as they pursue their educational goals. There are several things you can do to help. Here are a few of the top ways you can offer support:

*Lend an Ear

Many non-traditional students embark upon the educational journey with feelings of inadequacy, low confidence and even a bit of fear. Simply being there to lend an ear to offer an outlet to express these feelings is a terrific way to support them and boost their morale.

Additionally you can be a bit of a cheerleader too. By providing reassurance you can really help your non-traditional student family member or friend a great deal. Just knowing there is someone standing on the sidelines rooting for them will mean a great deal to your non-traditional student.


Many older college students have children and this may prevent them from pursuing their college dreams because they have difficulty balancing being a parent with being a student. If you are able, make an offer to babysit.

Even if you can’t babysit on a regular basis, even once in a while will mean a great deal. For instance if you occasionally offer to babysit, the student has extra time to study, work on a research paper or even have some “me” time to wind down. Students who are balancing classes with their parenting responsibilities will really appreciate this kind of gift.

*Help with Quizzes

When an older student first begins attending classes it can feel overwhelming. After all chances are it has been several years since they’ve had to take graded quizzes, this fear of venturing back into graded tests can cause a lot of stress.

To help reduce some of this anxiety you can help them with their quizzes to aid them in learning the material and feeling more confident about taking a test. There are lots of ways you can help them study such as creating flash cards or simply sitting down and quizzing them on the material until they feel certain about knowing the details that will be on the quiz.

*Proofread Papers

College students typically will be assigned lots of research or term papers for most of their classes. You can offer to proofread their work to give them an extra set of eyes, especially if it has been a long time since they’ve had to write. This kind of assistance is a tremendous help to many adult students.

*Time to Study

If the non-traditional student in your life is a spouse or other person you live with, you can help by making sure the student has quiet time to study, do homework and prepare for tests.

Often non-traditional students have a family, job or other responsibility and time management may be a challenge. If you make a concentrated effort to make sure they get some peace and quiet in order to focus is a terrific way to give them a hand.

Any offer of help you provide to an older college student is bound to be appreciated. The best way to find out how you can support them is to simply ask and then provide whatever encouragement or assistance you can offer.