Four-year colleges and universities are still focused on course schedules and academic services geared to the traditional 18-24 age group, which often shuts out older students with full-time jobs and kids. Community colleges, however, are doing better at offering more online courses and counseling, evening and weekend classes, and summer terms to provide greater flexibility to students of all ages, according to The Hechinger Report.
In addition, many schools have been forced for budgetary reasons to cut out services such as day-care centers that are disproportionately used by older students.
“We talk about the college-readiness of our students,” said Daniel Greenstein, director of postsecondary success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “How student-ready are our colleges?”
Those 25 and older account for 40% of all U.S. undergraduate and graduate students. “These numbers, they surprise many policymakers,” Greenstein said.
On average, older students typically take longer to graduate and a higher percentage of them drop out altogether. Some have a hard time fitting classes into their work schedules or when child care is available. Complicated transfer policies and procedures also make it difficult for these students to continue their education at another school.