Considering college? Featured

4:32am EDT November 29, 2005
In today’s world, where achieving more than our parents achieved is the rule of thumb and multitasking has become our national motto, it is no surprise that more and more adults are choosing to juggle family, career and college as they pursue that long-awaited or advanced degree. The question remains — now that you’ve decided to complete that degree, which college do you choose?

Adult students have different needs

Adult students are different from their traditional-age counterparts and as a result, there are several things they should look for in a college environment.

  • Course schedule flexibility (such as evening, weekend, accelerated or distance learning classes)

  • Availability of credit for life and work experience

  • On-campus childcare centers and health/wellness facilities that are accessible to all students

  • A learning environment where asking for help is acceptable and where tutors, developmental courses, etc. are available to the adult student

  • Ease of credit transferability if life demands that you change schools before your degree is completed.

Does the college fit your needs?
An important word when selecting a college is fit. Does the college fit your needs? Adult students have different needs because they are juggling many responsibilities. Evening and weekend accelerated classes are a must for an adult who is combining work, family and education.

Credit for life and work experience is also a significant program to look for in a college. Any credit granted for experiences you’ve already had will put you that much closer to your degree and keep a little extra money in your pocket.

For those adult students raising a family, find a college that offers a childcare center for small children not yet in school. You’ll find piece of mind knowing your child is only a short walk away from your classroom. (An additional caveat is a health/wellness facility on campus that is accessible to adult students. Health of mind and body are essential and the opportunity to get your workout in while you are on campus will benefit not only you, but your family, as well.)

Look for an environment that is conducive to adult learning. Is asking for help acceptable? Can you get one-on-one face time with advisers and professors? Is there a significant adult population so you can feel comfortable among your peers? A college that offers separate registration and orientation processes for adults may also offer a more comfortable environment for the adult learner.

You want to select a college initially where you plan to get your degree; however, life may throw you a curve and you may need to change institutions. Make sure you select a college where your credits can transfer smoothly. Ask questions up front about transferability of credits to other colleges. Often, colleges have transfer guides with neighboring institutions and transfer credit equivalency tables are available on college Web sites.

Does the college feel right?
The final piece of the puzzle for an adult student choosing a college is feel. Does it feel right? Can you see yourself as a student on this campus? Listen to your gut, because first impressions and intuition can speak volumes.

The bottom line — there are many colleges from which to choose. Select the college that offers the amenities you need to achieve your educational goals in a timely manner and in an adult-friendly environment. You’ll know you’ve made a good choice, ideally, when both you and the college benefit from a mutually rewarding relationship.

Nora Brems is senior admission counselor/transcript analyst at the College of Mount St. Joseph. Her career in higher education spans 18 years at schools in Indiana and Ohio, working with traditional, adult and transfer students. Reach her at (513)244-4233 or nora_brems@mail.msj.edu.