Being an Adult Learner at SUNY Empire State College

By Allison Quinn, student,SUNY Empire State College

November 10, 2017

SUNY Empire State College students represent learners of a diverse community. Students are hard-working and driven adults who are pursuing their education along with managing life’s responsibilities. Many have families, jobs, and busy schedules, and require an unconventional approach to meeting their educational goals. SUNY Empire State College takes pride in their dedicated and motivated adult students and provides learning opportunities, flexibility, and varied educational environments designed to fit the needs of adult learners. The majority of the college’s students are adults; according to the Undergraduate Catalog, “Most of our undergraduate students are between 25 and 55 years old (with a median age of 34), and are in the prime of their working lives.”

Adult learners bring a wide variety of educational backgrounds and life experiences to SUNY Empire State College. Some adult students have degrees and want to build upon their education, or they may want to begin studying to work in a different field. Other students have some college experience and are returning to school to continue working toward their degrees. SUNY Empire State College also welcomes adult students who are attending college for the first time, realizing that a college education will help them reach their career or personal goals. The many professional, educational, and life experiences adult students bring to SUNY Empire State College add to the college’s vast diversity.

Being an adult learner brings different circumstances than a student beginning college directly out of high school. Many students are parents, even grandparents, and most adult students are working full-time or part-time jobs to support themselves or their families. Adult students have a variety of obligations or unexpected obstacles that could arise during a semester, which makes attending a traditional college course, in a classroom, difficult or challenging. SUNY Empire State College’s faculty and administrators understand the work/life balance of adult learners and provide flexibility for students while they work to achieve their educational goals.

Upon beginning college after a break in education, adult learners may feel uncomfortable with new technology or may want to “brush up” on their math or writing skills. SUNY Empire State College provides resources for students who would like academic support. At the Learning Support website, students can access study skill and tutoring resources, writing center assistance, and math center assistance. Students can also contact the Academic Support group in their local region to learn more about the academic resources at SUNY Empire State College that can help their transition into college and throughout their education.

SUNY Empire State College currently has over 80,000 alumni which is a good indication that reaching academic goals is possible. Adult learners may face hurdles during their pursuit of a certificate or degree, and they may have to go at a slower pace with one course at a time, but each completed course is a step closer to reaching graduation or certificate completion. Attending college as an adult learner may be challenging at times, but reaching personal and educational goals is rewarding, empowering, and a great accomplishment.

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Searching for the Career You Want - Part One: How to Search for a Career and the Right Company, By Suzanne Lazar ’16, graduate student, SUNY Empire State College; editor, The Student Connection

SUNY Diversity Honors Scholarship, By Suzanne Lazar ’16, graduate student, SUNY Empire State College; editor, The Student Connection

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Article Contributors

Suzanne Lazar

Allison Quinn