Today’s colleges boast age diversified student bodies. With the increasing need to obtain a college education in order to be competitive in today’s job market many people who have been long out of high school are opting to return to college to pursue a degree.
The people who make up student populations on campuses today are both young and young-at-heart and as a result the definition of “traditional” student has been rapidly changing. Currently older students are primarily referred to as “non-traditionals”, but as more and more people return to school in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond this is quickly changing the dynamics of the student population.
Today the definition of ‘traditional’ student could theoretically mean a learner of any age. Age has become less of a factor when considering the stereotypical student population. As you enter any college classroom today it is probable you will see students of many ages who share similar interests and career goals.
Another reason age doesn’t matter in college is because all age groups find the flexibility of today’s campuses appealing. Nowadays students have the option of day, evening and weekend courses and if these don’t fit their schedules they can opt to go the distance learning route. Younger students who want to work and attend school are doing so and older students who feel a desire or need to return to school, but still need to support their families have the opportunity to enroll in college.
The defined line between the ‘right’ age for a college student has been erased and been replaced by a less distinct one because the image of today’s college student conjures up different visions. No longer do people automatically visualize high school graduates and twenty somethings as making up student populations.
Theoretically age does not matter in college because people of all ages are attending, but there are some ways age does matter. They matter in the respect that there are valuable experiences and attributes which can be brought to the classroom by the differing age groups which enhance the educational experience for all.
The line between generations has blurred as people of diverse ages come together to learn, become friends and as a result obtain a better understanding of the generational gaps and differing perspectives. People learn from differing experiences and the more diverse a student population is the more varied these perspectives are.
The older students bring life experience into the classroom and younger students bring modern viewpoints on life. Both have significant value which can be shared to enhance one another’s learning experience. In this respect, age does matter in college, but in a positive way which augments and boosts knowledge and wisdom.
Age is nothing more than a number and as more and more people return to college years or even decades beyond their high school graduation it has become clear that it is never too late to learn. Nor does the time ever pass to decide to pursue higher education in order to achieve personal and life goals.