Once considered a time for “retirement,” the Third Age (50-75) now entices one to explore. Many journeying through this period are embracing additional education that will allow them to move in the direction of their passion and pursue their dreams. Encouragement abounds as these adult learners attempt to embark on positive, healthy career transitions and change.
For over two decades, nontraditional students have comprised close to 40 percent of the college population, spanning a range of backgrounds and experiences from Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and GED® credential holders to 55-year-old professionals and skilled workers in career transition.
The most significant shift is probably the massive growth in the adult student population in higher education. Thirty-eight percent of those enrolled in higher education are over the age of 25 and one-fourth are over the age of 30. The share of all students who are over age 25 is projected to increase another twenty-three percent by 2019.
As a group, nontraditional students have changed the way that higher education operates. There are some twenty-first century trends in education that promise to reshape the face of higher learning.
For higher education institutions to effectively mobilize to meet our real education needs, it will be necessary first to recognize the diverse faces of higher education – and that means recognizing the extent to which adult learners are the future of higher education.
For me, stories shared by others – learning more about individual experiences – helps one gain a sense for the journey. So, as promised in last week’s blog, (more…)