Maturity in Higher Education: Older Students are Returning to College

The Rise of Older Students in Higher Education

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Quick, picture the average college student.

If you're like many of us, the image of a fresh-faced young man or woman in their late teens or early twenties comes to mind. The college student that you pictured probably still relies heavily on his or her parents for financial support. This may be an image of years past.

However, that old stereotype is changing. With increasing frequency, today's college students are older and more financially independent than their predecessors were. In fact, according to the most recent figures from the Department of Education, in 2011 just over half of the student population was over 25 years old. 

Studies show that the trend towards older college students may continue, and there can be several benefits to entering college with some life experience under one’s belt. For example, college students over 25 may have more confidence in themselves given their exposure to a wider range of situations, and oftentimes they have the empirical knowledge to back up the theory of what’s imparted in the classroom.

One of the changes that may result from larger numbers of older students returning to college is a more educated labor force overall. Recent statistics reported in the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that over half of the current labor force has less than a four-year degree. With the projected increase in older students returning to college, the percentage of degreed workers in the workforce is on course to change.

To learn more about the changes in the college population, review the infographic below.

The Rise of Older Students in Higher Education
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