Traditional College Students Vs Adult Learners – What Are Their Differences? — Community Center for Elder Colleges

Traditional College Students Vs Adult Learners – What Are Their Differences?

Nowadays, many adults are returning to college as non-traditional students either to finish a degree once started, but never completed, or to obtain an advanced degree for better career future. There are some differences of these adult learners that make them unique from other traditional college students. In order to understand what it takes to be a successful adult student, one must understand what comprises adult education and what makes the differences of adult learners from the traditional college students.

The adult students normally have entered workplace for years and their age is above the age of traditional college students that are at18 to 22 years old. They are re-entering college for various reasons. Since they have many years of working experience, the adult students rely on the breadth and depth of life experiences when it comes to the group discussion and project participation. In contrast, traditional college students are relying more on the textbook readings to provide examples and make points during the class discussion and project presentation.

Due to the average adult learners are older than the traditional college students and they have rich life-experience, adult students tend to be selected as the group leader when it comes to forming a group project. But, due to the older age and they have left the school for a long time, adult students may afraid to share their thoughts openly due to the fearful of how they will be judged and they are afraid the answer they provide might be wrong. Therefore, some of them tend to keep quite at the class until they are asked to voice up their opinions.

The intensive usage of computer and internet are common among the traditional college students, but those enhanced technology might be a new concept for adult learners, especially for those adult students who have worked in a field that has less contact the use of computer or internet. It may take them a longer time to learn the basic computer functions and the use of computer application such as the word processing and internet browsing, which are common for traditional college students as they have just learned them in high schools. But, adult learners may be able to learn things that are related to life experience quicker than those young college students.

Generally, adult learners have better time management skills as they need to allocate time for their job and study while carrying out their family obligations. Moreover, many of them are highly self-motivated learners as they want to know how they have learned at the college can be applied in practice in the real world. Since traditional college students are more focus in their study as many of them are young and don’t have family obligations and as many responsibilities as the adult learners do, they will have more time to be allocated to their study.


Adult learners are unique from traditional college students. If you are an adult learner who returning to college for pursuing a degree, you have to understand what it takes to be a successfully adult student.

Julie Harvard, an author who writes topics related to education especially in online education programs. You can explore more information and resources from her website at URL: You also could request FREE information pack on your selected degree programs by filling in a simple search for online degrees form.

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