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Orientation for the Adult Learner

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

Institutions are trying to figure out how to introduce a growing population of older students to their campuses.

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf

September 3, 2019

Most of the undergraduates headed for or returning to college this year will be inundated with welcome week and orientation events designed to connect them with classmates, help them find extracurricular activities and clubs, and make them feel at home on campus.

The festivals and concerts may appeal to students in the traditional college age range of 18 to 24, but older students, an ever-increasing population on American campuses, often want something different.

There is a lot of self-doubt … questions about, 'How do I find my footing here?' And a good part of this is how we assuage those fears

These older students are often professionals with full-time jobs. They may have children and be balancing family responsibilities while attending college. They might only take classes part-time. They may not have time for lengthy events or feel they don’t need the extra fluff that often comes with typical orientations. They want information pared down to simply learn what they need to earn their degrees.

Enrollment in college by those older than 25 has been steadily increasing in recent decades. It increased by 11 percent between 2006 and 2016. More than seven million students ages 25 and older are attending college in fall 2019, according to federal data.



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