Even though national statistics (NCES, 2009) posit the increase in enrollment for nontraditional university student populations, the perceptions of acceptance for these older students differ. The reasons for older students entering colleges supports the notion that these students view education as an opportunity to continue on their other life pursuits, however, others in this setting may feel differently, and as a result, there are perceptions surrounding their capability of learning. As growing populations of much older and experienced adults enter higher education, administrators will be confronted with new challenges to make sure their experiences are equitable to other student populations. Additionally, educators will need to address ways in which instruction is delivered and also support systems to encourage collaboratively rich environments in order to meet the needs of these learners. While there is great data to discuss this recent trend in higher education, this research fails to recognize how nontraditional students in are treated in such settings and ultimately denigrate how these students can promote experiential learning initiatives in the classroom. This article seeks to highlight the findings of a pilot case study of five college students, all over the age of 50. The findings of this study reveal that some collegiate environments are hostile or intimidating for nontraditional students; however, with adequate support from colleagues, instructors, college services, and even family environments, students can meet the challenges associated with pursuing a college degree.
|Keywords:||Nontraditional Students, Adult Learning Theory, Aging Brain, Experiential Learning, Mentoring|
Doctoral Student, Texas A & M University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Houston, North Carolina, USA
Professor, Texas A & M University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, College Station, North Carolina, USA
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