Adults Returning to School


One of the major trends of the 80's and 90's has been the return of adults over the age of 25 to colleges and universities. Some statistics report that over 50% of all students nationwide now fit this category. There are particular struggles for the returning student who is older than average. If you are an adult returning to college, you may have concerns about money, competition with younger students, fears about whether you can remember how to study, and insecurities about being set apart from others. Usually, you have many more activities to balance in your personal life than the younger students. You may have delayed going to college for many reasons: lack of clear goals, relationships, money, motivation, or other circumstances. When people return to school, their lives are often much more complicated and involved than they would be at age eighteen. While this may be a disadvantage initially, often, there are more incentives to succeeding later in life. Older students often have more of a consumer mentality in approaching their education and seem to feel more free to interact with professors. Higher education is going to thrive into the next century with the help of returning older students but the uniqueness of their needs calls for different strategies. It is helpful to know that other students have felt the same as you do! Groups of older students talking together or visiting in the dining halls can discover that they feel similarly about many issues and need the same kinds of support. All students need support to succeed in school as all need a degree of challenge. The secret is in finding the appropriate balance for yourself. The resourceful older than average student must look for support if it is not readily apparent and seek help when necessary. It is important to do "reality checks" with others to feel validated and supported in your experience here and to find out what resources are available.

Where can you find support at Missouri S&T?

There are really many places. The Counseling Center is one place to find a listening ear to help with the initial transition. Check the bulletin board in the Carver Turner Room of University Center East for information on concerns of commuter students. Talk with your professors - - they can be an invaluable resource for non-traditional students. Talk to other students, both traditional and non-traditional age students really know what you're going through. Ask your family and friends for specific signs of care - - like doing the dishes or laundry, sharing household chores, assisting with carpooling. You'll never know who will help until you ask.