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Challenges Facing Adult Learners

Walk around any college campus and you will notice a much different environment than several decades ago. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about one-third of all college students are adult learners, or age 25 and older. At Asher College, these students make up about 80 percent of the student population. These “non-traditional” students are projected to continue having a significant presence at colleges and universities and their enrollment may even increase in coming years.

These noteworthy numbers have spurred research and innovation in higher education. Much attention has been spent on analyzing the challenges facing adult learners and in finding solutions to help serve this growing population.

Below are some of the major challenges facing adult learners in postsecondary education:

School – Life Balance

Time is a precious commodity and school is a great time commitment. Most adult learners have jobs and many also have families. Balancing work and family life can be difficult without the added task of school.

Financing Education

Few will argue that with age comes greater financial responsibility. Many adult learners are financially independent, and therefore, have more financial obligations than students right out of high school. Financing education may not be something they feel they can budget or afford.


A lack of confidence in their academic abilities and the fear of starting something new is a common challenge faced by adult learners. Even though a great number of college students are now classified as non-traditional, adult learners may feel uncomfortable entering a college environment with younger students, especially if much time has passed since they opened a school book.


As mentioned before, time is an important factor students consider before agreeing to start or go back to school. With limited time available, especially during traditional work hours, adult learners may require a more flexible class schedule. And with other life obligations getting in the way, visiting a campus regularly may seem a daunting task.

New research and policies continue to emerge to address these challenges and better support this academic population. Some colleges and universities have evolved to offer more flexible schedules and more accessible options, such as online classes. Some offer support systems and special courses to help adult learners balance life, work and school and there are various financing options available, including Federal Student Aid, to help pay for education.

Adult learners are not alone and they should discuss their concerns with campus officials. These representatives can help potential students on the path to success and ensure them they picked the right school for their needs.

To learn about how Asher College is supporting adult learners, including flexible schedules, financing options and school and career development assistance, visit their website or one of their convenient locations.