Attending College as an Adult Learner

August 1, 2013 — Dan Fogarty

Whether you are thinking of attending college for the first time or returning after a few years off, it can be a tough adjustment when stepping foot on campus.  At FM, we welcome many adult learners, providing for a very dynamic and diverse learning environment.  One of the biggest fears faced by many non-traditional aged students is the fear of the unknown.  If you are one of those people contemplating this decision, realize that millions of students who attend college each year around the country are adult learners, just like you.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), more than one million baby boomers are enrolled in the nations’ 1,200 community colleges, with trends showing this number will increase substantially over the coming years.  Of these adult learners, the vast majority succeeds and makes it to graduation day.  This is helpful to know when facing your fears.  Adult students typically fear the same two things when considering college: the first is being successful; the second is doing well academically.

Adult learners are often at a crossroads in their lives.  They are looking for a new career, a new start, or an added knowledge base to further themselves in their current career.  Determination and the need to succeed are very much at the forefront of their mind.  At the same time, many may have various family obligations which can be very time consuming.  The thought of juggling the necessity for a steady income with school related priorities is another factor that can cast doubts on taking the leap.  What pushes many into making the decision is the realization of how important the end result will be for them.  By taking a look at the overall picture, many times the individual can see that, although it may be a strain on their lives and the lives of their family, the end result will greatly benefit them all.

The second inhibitor is academic pressure.  Reading chapters, writing papers, taking tests, and completing homework can be overwhelming.  The most successful adult learners are the ones who start out doing what they can handle.  By this I mean start out by taking only a course or two so that you can get into the mindset of a college student without overwhelming yourself at the beginning.  Starting slowly can create a positive outlook which will lead to greater success.  It’s understandable to want to take many courses at the beginning so that you can finish earlier; but at that point it is more beneficial to your overall goal to start your first semester on a positive note versus getting in over your head. 

As an adult learner the transition to college can be easier if you understand your ultimate goal and know that you will have many services along the way to assist you in completing your goal.  FM can help you stay both motivated to succeed and academically successful through the various support services that we offer.

While our website (FMCC.edu) contains the information you need, our admissions counselors are happy to assist you as you contemplate college.  Contact us at 518-736-FMCC (3622) to set up an appointment.     

Dan Fogarty is an Admissions and Enrollment Management Assistant at FM.

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