It used to be that the typical college student was newly out of high school, attending college full-time and living on campus.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, 38 percent of those enrolled in higher education were over the age of 25 and 24 percent were over the age of 30. We expect those numbers to significantly increase in the coming years.
Older people are coming back to the classroom for a variety of reasons.
“I’ve been a realtor for 14 years. For the first 10 years, business was good.” said Josie Bishop, a second year student majoring in sports medicine.
“Then the housing market fell apart and I almost lost my own home to foreclosure. The Maricopa Workforce Connection helped me create new career goals, and here I am, back in school and loving it,’ Bishop said
Another reason for the gap between high school and college is a marriage or birth of a child.
Jodi Amani was set to attend ASU in the fall of 2001, but a pregnancy interrupted her plans. She had a baby boy, and two more after that, and barely got by on her earnings as an administrative assistant at SRP.
“In the back of my mind, I held on to the hope that one day I’d go to ASU and fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse,” Amani said.
Amani altered her dreams last year when she realized that community college made more sense, financially and logistically.
” MCC is so much less expensive than ASU. I got a Pell grant that more than covered the cost of tuition and books. I don’t have a car, and the campus is near my apartment. I plan to complete my prerequisites here and then transfer to ASU,” Amani said.
Another reason many students delay their educational pursuits is due to struggles with alcohol and drugs.
Christa Adams, the director of the Peervention program at MCC stated, “Substance abuse is the number one reason why students drop out of higher education,” Adams said.
Her program trains and empowers fellow students to reach out to classmates who have alcohol and drug issues.
“The program pretty much saved my life. It definitely gave me a place to turn to and people who care about what I’m going through. I’m sober three months now, and recovery rocks,” said Jay B.
Studies show that non-traditional students have an advantage over their younger counterparts.
Older students tend to be more focused, more determined to succeed, according to Dennis Wilhelm of the Collegiate Success Council.
“They come in with a definitive goal and a time line for completion. Younger students tend to take more time to determine or even change majors or get sidetracked by non-academic endeavors,” Wilhelm said.