College Education Effect on Middle Age Adults
The past decade has seen the reentry of middle-aged adults into colleges and various higher learning institutions. There are many reasons why people in this age bracket are opting to go back to classes. The key differentiation between these adults reentering colleges and young adults of 18-25 years old is that the middle-aged students are likely to be juggling with responsibilities. They have other life roles that include work, parenting, family life, and service to community as responsible adults.
The requirement of a college degree is necessary for high-paid job opportunities or promotions at work. The social and economic reasons are numerous and vary according to personal skills, work-related characteristics, age and gender. Although the motives of midlife learners differ, the motives closely relate to social ideologies regarding aging, work, retirement, and economy. The relentless shifts in demand of new skills in the office also hit home for most of such employees who realize that lacking a degree might cost them job security and decent wage. This trend will continue to persist with the rapid speed of the technological development (Bergmann & Sams, 2012).
Although the majority of people go back to school to better their careers, some of the reasons why middle age adults go back to class are purely personal and may as well include the pleasure of learning. This age is the stage in life that marks personal achievement and increases the value of learning for self-development; furthermore, most of people in this category have new plans for their lives in mind, which cannot be executed without additional learning. A bigger percent of this group also sees the need to reinvent oneself professionally, while for some of the people it is just a quest to finish what they have already started in life but lacked resources and time to complete at the earlier stage of their lives.
This research project will provide an overview of the effect of seeking college education on the lives of middle-aged students, as well as the challenges they go through and the way these challenges transform their lives. In addition, it will propose a conceptual framework for managing some of the constraints middle-aged students go through in the process.
Colleges have long recognized the importance of developing a challenge-free and reliable special study schedules. However, a good number of people in the middle age population who are willing to go back to school lack the opportunity to pursue further education due to various constraints, such as distance from a workplace to learning institutions, as well as other commitments like family or work. Many people find it hard to finance both their own educational needs and those of their children who study in colleges.
First of all, neither learning institutions nor employers address these challenges properly. The number of organizations or companies that provide financial support for their employees seeking further studies is limited. Most of the employers do not have flexible leave study holidays for their employees. This situation makes most of the employees seek evening classes, which is very tedious. Secondly, the traditional study schedules for this special group put up by colleges lack reliability as most of the middle-aged students often live far from colleges (Wehmeyer et al., 2000).
According to Smyth et al. (2012), there is a need to develop flexible schedules and establish e-learning centers for middle-aged students so that they can do their studies online at their comfort. Lastly, there is evidence that older adults face discriminatory treatment from various stakeholders in the education sector. The modules they enroll in are highly priced compared to the same modules their counterparts of younger age are pursuing.
In summary, there is a need to develop a better understanding of the problem and elaborate a structural approach in identifying and modeling the challenges that middle age adults face in order to ensure a more conducive learning environment for these learners. Furthermore, there is a need to redefine a number of research questions, namely (1) what are the challenges that a typical middle age adult seeking college education face?, (2) how to classify these challenges for easy identification?, (3) what are the current industry measures set in place to address these challenges?, and, lastly, (4) what is the best way to unify these challenges in order to develop a challenge-free study environment for these individuals?
The long-term goal of this research is to develop and provide an effective and sustainable official solution of the abovementioned problems. The reason for this literature review is to examine how the lives of the middle-aged students change during and after their quest for education. The objective of this study is to provide a comprehensive review of past literature and examine the current measures aimed at dealing with the challenges.
The study sub-objectives are as follows:
- Providing a comprehensive review of the challenges typically faced by middle age adults seeking college education;
- Classifying the broad challenges faced by middle age adults seeking college education for easier modeling;
- Reviewing the current measures set in place to address these challenges;
- Outlining a detailed approach that solves the challenges faced by middle-aged adults joining higher learning institutions.
The results of this research will be valuable to the colleges providing college education, as well as other key players in this industry, and will help developing effective policies and practices that are suitable for middle age adults seeking college credentials.
Preliminary Literature Review
A preliminary literature review shows that past research has primarily focused on the reasons why middle age adults are going back to school in this age of a universal economy and has analyzed the impact of a college education on their lives. Those adults who manage to complete their degrees gain economic and personal benefits, which include pay rise, promotions at their workplace and successful careers after graduation. Their gains also prove to be beneficial to the society at large in a social, political and economic way.
It must be noted that the past literature on middle age adult students in colleges for undergraduate education is highly diverse in form and substance. The sub-domains in such literature include intellectual performance of these adults, motivation for their reentry and influence of academic skills, as well as perception of the instructional environment. Several studies in this field focus on the nature of assessment and relate to admission and selection procedures for adult students (Smyth et al., 2012). Some studies dwell on the statistics that shows a growing number of adult students in classrooms. For example, one such study focuses on the statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics, which indicates a growing trend in the presence of “non-traditional” students in colleges. Wehmeyer et al. (2000) projects that out of the current eighteen million college students, 38 percent are at the age of twenty-five or older. This number is set to grow as more jobs requiring workers to possess postgraduate credentials open up in the growing economy. This has pushed higher learning institutions to make more flexible schedules for the middle-age adults in order to give them an opportunity to get enrolled in postgraduate programs. This emerging trend has proved that there is a large number of the older population seeking reentry into our colleges, which must be taken into account by either learning institutions or employees.
In the past, there were limited attempts to deal with the challenges that middle age adult learners faced. When it comes to identification of the challenges, various detailed research materials are available. However, the bullish projection on the growth of adults continually seeking postgraduate credentials must be carefully analyzed. A definitive and comprehensive structured approach in managing the challenges is missing from these large volumes of past research.
The principal research technique for this study is a literature review from past findings and conceptual modeling. The first step to develop a friendly learning process entails the identification and classification of the challenges in an organized framework. This study will review past research findings, identify various types of problems, and attempt to classify these problems according to their characteristics. Then, a classification process based on the findings from the past literature for categorizing challenges faced by adults in learning institutions is to be developed.
Based on the review of current industry practices, the second stage of the study will include the identification of existing models that attempt to address these challenges. These are the measures that higher learning institutions have put in place to address the growing demand of adults for college education. The study will also look into various workplace policies for distance learning and work-study programs. In addition, the study will consider governmental intervention policies, if any, that seek to address some of the challenges.
Finally, after the classification of the challenges or problems and identification of the current modeling techniques, the study will outline a conceptual framework for addressing college education effects on middle age adults.
Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. International Society for Technology in Education.
Smyth, S., Houghton, C., Cooney, A., & Casey, D. (2012). Students’ experiences of blended learning across a range of postgraduate programmes. Nurse Education Today, 32(4), 464-468.
Wehmeyer, M. L., Palmer, S. B., Agran, M., Mithaug, D. E., & Martin, J. E. (2000). Promoting causal agency: The self-determined learning model of instruction. Exceptional Children, 66(4), 439-453.