When you think of the average college student, you probably imagine a young, twenty-something who doesn’t have many responsibilities other than maybe a part-time job. This description might have described the vast majority of college students in the past, but times are changing quickly. More and more adult learners are returning to college to complete their degrees.
In fact, some project the rate of enrollment for these older students will overshadow enrollment of what we now consider the average student. Here, we’ll take a look at how colleges are reacting to this changing demographic and why now’s the best time for adult learners to return for their degrees.
There’s more than one kind of student
What makes a college student a college student? Well, it’s more complicated than you might think. College students are generally grouped into one of two categories: traditional or non-traditional. Traditional students range in age from 17 to 24 and are what you might regard as the “average” college student. These individuals typically don’t have many responsibilities outside of earning their degree.
On the other hand, non-traditional students are those 25 and older that have a lot to worry about outside of school including children, spouses, full-time jobs, and more. Although both types of students attend similar colleges, their collegiate experiences differ greatly.
The rise of the non-traditional student
Unfortunately, many adults who would fall into the non-traditional category feel alone and out-of-place, which can be a major obstacle to those who want to return to finish their degree. However, some stats about this group are actually quite inspiring. In 2020 alone, there were over 7.5 million students older than 25 enrolled in college. Currently, 74% of undergraduate students identify as non-traditional. Furthermore, nearly half of college students are older than 25 and are returning to finish a degree, advance their career or learn new skills.
How colleges are meeting these changes
Colleges have a responsibility to meet the needs of their students, and many have responded to the unique requirements of non-traditional students. Here are some ways that universities and community colleges are providing for the needs of returning adult students:
Flexible Scheduling – Between personal, professional, and family responsibilities, many adult students don’t have the flexible schedules that traditional students enjoy. Over the years, colleges have been accommodating older students more and more with an increasing number of evening and weekend courses. The number of students taking advantage of these flexible courses has also grown.
Online Programs – One of the most important changes in higher education for nontraditional students has been the increase in online courses. Many adult learners are limited in their ability to relocate due to jobs and families. With more colleges offering flexibility and convenience through online classes, students have access to a greater number of programs and universities.
In 2018, over 6 million college students were taking online courses. One survey even found that around one-third of college students were taking at least one class online. These numbers only increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic as colleges looked for ways to continue despite the lockdowns and health complications.
Financial Assistance – It’s not uncommon for nontraditional students to face financial obstacles when returning to complete their degrees. For many, this is the main challenge. If you’re a Mississippi adult interested in completing your degree, the C2C Program is a perfect solution.
It’s specifically designed to help nontraditional students just like you return to college. Some participants even qualify for financial assistance in the form of the C2C Grant. It’s accepted at all public universities and community colleges throughout the state.
Real-life success stories of non-traditional students
Adult students are no longer the odd-person out in college. Instead, they’re part of one of the fastest-growing groups within the collegiate space. Even with this peace of mind, it is still tough for some people to envision their success. Let’s take a look at some inspiring C2C success stories to motivate anyone still on the fence:
Rosa Hall – Nearly 24 years after leaving college, this mother of two was able to complete her degree while holding down two jobs. Rosa studied during any breaks in her busy day and is now on her way to earning a doctorate. She proved that you can earn a degree even when caring for kids and working full-time.
Zetella Gooch – This mother’s dream of completing a degree never faltered even decades after leaving college for the first time. After randomly coming across a commercial for C2C, Zetella finally realized her lifelong goal of returning to school. She received her degree even while supporting her daughter who was experiencing health complications and running her own business.
Thomas Coleman – After struggling to complete his degree the first time around, Thomas Coleman was committed to finishing what he started decades before. With the help of the C2C program, this father and full-time employee was able to accomplish his life-long goal. He even was able to surprise his daughter by receiving his degree on the same day that she did.
Jemeika Jones – After losing her right arm in a horrific car accident, Jemeika had to relearn daily activities such as writing with her left hand. Throughout all of her medical complications and rehab, Jemeika remained committed to returning to school. With the help of C2C, she was able to find a degree path that worked for her. Now, this mother and survivor is planning to earn a doctorate from Ole Miss.
Complete your degree with C2C
The Complete 2 Compete Program is specially designed to support Mississippi adults return to college to complete their degrees. Whether you want to enter into a new field, qualify for a promotion, or simply learn new skills, the C2C Program will guide you every step of the way. In the program, you’ll get paired with a dedicated C2C Coach who works with you one-on-one to figure out the quickest path to graduation. The C2C Grant offers even more support to those that qualify by taking some of the financial pressure off your education.
Contact C2C today to see if you qualify for this unique opportunity.