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5 Reasons Adults Returning to College Succeed

By DeVry University


Age is relative … except when it isn’t.

Sure, you may not feel a day over 19, but if you’re an adult going back to school, you certainly will feel something surrounded by thousands of 19-year-olds on a college campus. Out of place, nervous, scared or *gasp* old – yeah, adult students can experience these emotions and then some when they have more in common with the professor than the young student next to them.

There’s even a term for it – the imposter syndrome – and it’s a very real thing. It’s strong enough for an adult student to question whether they belong, whether they can do it, or why they even thought to do it in the first place. It’s also why many don’t even try to be students.

But again, age is relative … except when it isn’t. And in the case of adult students (those 25 and older) – now the fastest growing educational demographic, by the way — their age gives them some SERIOUS advantages over their underage counterparts. Here are five reasons adults returning to college can not only succeed but excel when they go back to school.

Focus

The average person has a shorter attention span than a goldfish (8 seconds to a goldfish’s 9 seconds).

While many young students’ minds may be on college’s extracurriculars as much as their classes, adult students are usually there for one reason: to learn. Better yet, they’ve often identified what they want to learn and are intensely dedicated to doing it.

Clear Goals

Around 80 percent of college students change their majors at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

While adult students still may change their majors, they often already know whether they want to continue down a set career path or branch out down a new one. They also tend to have more realistic expectations about what they need and want from their degree.

Multi-Tasking

Going back to school is a considerable time commitment. It’s also one many students understand, as 75 percent of college students juggle a job and/or family while attending school.

Often, age has taught adult students how to manage their time and multi-task better than those fresh out of high school. The flexibility of online degree programs is also an option to better aid busy students, for those comfortable with technology.

Experience

There’s a reason young athletes look to veteran players: They know more! So do adult students.

Adult students simply have more general knowledge – be it real-world career experiences, further insight into a class topic or knowing how to maximize their studying – meaning they basically have a head start on younger students. In fact, the Seattle Longitudinal Study – which tracked the cognitive abilities of thousands of adults over 50 years – shows that middle-aged adults performed better on four out of six tests than they did as young adults.

Adaptability

Adversity is going to happen to any college student. A hard class, a missed assignment, a personal matter at home – it will happen.

Yet, years in the real world have taught many adult students to better cope, adapt and move on. They may have dealt with not getting hired, been laid off, passed over for promotions or dealt with their fair share of home-life issues. They use these real-life adversities as motivators for when adversity strikes in their student life.