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15 Benefits of Being an Adult Student

Updated on August 9, 2014

Adult Enrollment is on the Rise.

An adult learner is most often defined as someone over the age of 25 who is attending a post-secondary institution. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) states that the increase in 25 and over has been larger than the percentage increase of younger students. From 2011 to 2021, NCES projects a rise of 14% in enrollments of students 25 and over. Soon, my friends, we will take over the world! Let's take a look at some of the advantages of being a member of that club.

1. You Know Your Major, Major.

Congrats! You’ve already won half the battle! According to according to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of, 80% of college-bound students have yet to choose a major and 50% of those end up changing their majors anyway. So, with that little hurdle out of the way, you already know which classes you need to take and can put your nose to the grind.

2. You See the Big Picture.

Just like looking at a Monet, you are able to step back and see where you are going today, tomorrow, and in the long run. You have a concrete plan in place and are able to tackle one challenge after another with confidence because you know where it will get you in the end. The light at the end of the tunnel will be shining from the get-go, giving you hope for and understanding of your educational goals as you plug form semester to semester.

Priorities, People! Priorities!

3. You Know How to Manage Your Time.

We live in an age where multitasking is (unfortunately) king, but let’s think about the depth of multitasking from an adult student to that of a traditional, younger student.

You’ve probably had a career or long-lasting job where you have had the opportunity to fine-tune your multitasking abilities. You embody the superpower of being able to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. Sure the younger generation can occupy themselves with endless status updates and texts while listening to music, eating nuke-able noodles, and watching TV. But excuse me while I get the baby changed and talk to my mother in law on the phone, while trying not to burn dinner and keeping the dog out of the garbage. Go ahead, wipe the sweat off your brow, you’re doing great!

4. You are Cultured.

Ever go on vacation? Have in-laws with a beach house someplace exotic? (You lucky dog, you!) Traveled for business? Remember the Cold War? How about the other George Bush?

Excellent, so you already know your history and have a better grasp on cultures and locales other than where you grew up. I won’t lie, I remember a time when I thought the Poconos where somewhere near the Bahamas. I blame it on the Beach Boys for that one. But, chances are, you have experienced some crazy stuff during your lifetime, maybe not the civil war or the Spanish Inquisition, but I’d be willing to bet you know more than the 19 year old sitting next to you. Woodstock, anyone? (Trick question! Which one?)

Not that kind of student-teacher relationship!
Not that kind of student-teacher relationship! | Source

5. Student-Teacher Relationships.

If you don’t know by now, I've got some news for you. There are going to be times when you are the same age or older than your teacher. Hold the whippersnapper comments until you hear me out; this is a good thing! You can use your age to your advantage by forming a relationship with your professor that will result in a less formal classroom experience and customized help.

Your Teacher, Your Friend:

I had an American Literature teacher who was only a couple years older than me and I loved her! We were able to connect on a peer-to-peer level and she opened right up to me as soon as we started talking and sharing stories. It helped that we had the same interests, but we were still very different people, which was good. Once establishing a relationship with her, I had someone to look at my educational goals from a different point of view and offer loads of help. She even offered to let me borrow books form her personal collection and to help me to write out scholarship letters. She was also kind enough to offer me advice on how to get her job (which is what I'm aiming for). We still keep in touch and I know that I can turn to her if I need any advice.

Keep on top of Your Reading List.

The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars
I highly recommend anything by John Green and am so happy to see more generations reading YA books!

6. You Have Read More, and Enjoy it (I Hope).

Since leaving high school or graduating college the first time, you have actually picked up books for pleasure. You read articles about finance, current topics, science, and other newsy goings-on in the world. This has helped you expand your mind beyond Beowulf and Of Mice and Men; and depending on your favorite genre, you could have some expert knowledge that will get you a head start in some of your classes, lightening your workload and making you look super smart. Double Bonus: Since reading makes you smart, you won’t have to cite as many articles in your papers, since you already know lots of stuff. Also, you may even have a book or two that are on the required reading list sitting on your bookshelf at home. Go you!

Rock-star Status!

*Swoon* | Source

7. So, You Got Over Being Mistaken for the Teacher (More Than Once).

You are now an authority figure in your class. This is just downright fun. Your classmates are more likely to listen to you and find value in the information you contribute to class discussions. Also, all those years of life experience will be put to good use and you can revel in the possibility that you may develop a cult following of youngsters who look up to you. Go ahead, Bruce, relive those glory days!

8. Speaking of Glory Days, Parties, Sports, and School Organizations are not Your Means of Socialization.

You are far removed from all sorts of distractions that would lead you off the beaten path of higher education. You don’t have to be involved in extra circulars in order to heighten your value as a student unless you want to. Word of advice though – it may be a little late to try out for the school football team – Sorry, pal. One good thing to get involved in are on-campus career fairs and other networking opportunities – refer back to number 7 for a kick start in that department.

9. Learn With Your Kids.

If you have children of any age, you are in luck. Since you have been right by their side helping with homework, you have been able to keep learning material fresh in your mind. Even better if your kids are going to college at the same time as you, as you can share books and cut down on expenses. Score!

Side note: I knew a woman who went to college at the same time her kids were in school. She challenged them to compete with her at getting better grades, resulting in more bonding time, and yes - better grades. Working alongside each other really adds a new level to your parent/child relationship and can enrich your whole family.

10. Show Me the Money!

One of the obvious reasons for getting or post-secondary education as an adult student is the benefit (or purpose of) getting paid more for having a degree. Combine that with life experience, and you are a powerhouse of productivity.

It’s a fact, Jack: A study form shows that workers with college degrees earn approximately twice as much over a lifetime than those with just a high school diploma. The potential to get a better job or earn more at your current position is much greater and will yield a better return on investment, or ROI from your college attendance.

What's more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (see chart below), the median weekly earnings in 2012 for those with a Bachelor’s Degree was $1,038.00. Compare that to the median weekly salary of someone with just a high school diploma, which is $626.00.

Did I mention that some employers offer tuition reimbursement and there are specifically tailored scholarships for adult and nontraditional students, like you. So, what do you have to lose?

How Does a College Degree Help Your Career?

How Does a College Degree Help My Career
How Does a College Degree Help My Career

11. You Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses.

This isn't your first rodeo, so it’s safe to assume you know yourself pretty well. You know what you're good at and know how to showcase your abilities. Whether it's your mad study skills or your impeccable grammar, you can expect that some tasks will be a breeze for you.

On the flip side, you are able to focus on improving your weaknesses without getting down on yourself and understand the value in overcoming any personal challenges. Better yet, you probably know your learning style and what to ask for help on. As soon as you get an assignment that you will have trouble with, you can nip in in the bud by asking for help right away before getting in over your head.

12. You Have Self-Control, Unless of Course, That's one of Your Weaknesses.

One of the top reasons traditional students drop out of college is because they can’t control themselves. Too much spending, partying, and promiscuity (hellooo co-ed dorms!); these are just a few reasons for students leaving college without a degree and mounds of debt. But they all have one thing in common: self-control. Too much too fast can quickly take a toll on the freedom impaired freshman straight out of high school. Let’s look at some of you resume worthy skills:

  • You are an expert in sitting through meetings and still managed not to touch your cell phone, or fall asleep (most of the time).
  • Since getting older, those binge drinking habits have (hopefully) calmed down, and you can limit yourself to just a few cocktails, leaving you ready to face class the next day.
  • When a know-it-all student tries to dominate the lesson, you are able to zip your lips and write it off, letting whatever asinine comments they spew out roll off your back.
  • Online students need self-control in order to get through their class. It is so tempting to check Facebook, or get off topic when researching, but you my friend, know that checking your best friend’s recent album during homework time is falling victim to the mother of all time wasters. On second thought, let me just check real quick to see if anyone responded to my post about how much work I have to do, and how little time I have to do it…

Yo, Adrian!

13. You Have the Determination of a Fierce, Hungry Tiger. Rawr!

You know what you want and you are going to get it!! Whatever it takes, you will plow through anyone who gets in your way of your final goal. Be it your immature classmates, difficult professors, or clueless faculty, if you don’t get the answers you need ASAP, you will have the dean and the president of that college on the phone so fast it will make my head spin! You aren’t getting any younger, but this is a good thing! Your age and reduced free time will only serve to make you get the job done, and done right.

14. You are a Frugal McDougal.

There's a good chance you've been balancing a checkbook or the family budget for a while now. You know where to cut costs and when to make sacrifices.

You've made the right move to start at a community college or technical school to earn credits on the cheap, and know how to find the best deals on your textbooks and school supplies, and there's no chance in hell that you will be buying new school clothes or blowing money at the commons on overpriced fast food (unless you're craving Taco Bell).

These few things will save you lots of dough in the long run, and you won't be constantly reminded that you have huge student loan debt hanging over your head right off the bat.

15. You own Your Future.

With parents no longer influencing your major decisions, you are able to make the best choices for you. After all, that’s why you are going to college! You are in control of financing this endeavor, so you don’t have to feel guilty that you aren't following in their footsteps, and you probably find that they would fully trust and support whatever path you choose. You are holding yourself accountable to no one but you and expectations of others have long since faded away. (Can I get an amen?!) This is the most fulfilling feeling an adult student can have, so revel in deciding your future and keep looking ahead!

“Make it so” – Captain Picard


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