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Western Kentucky University

Adult Learner Services

What is an Adult Learner?

Adult learners are often referred to as "non-traditional" students. Traditional students are those that enter college right after high school, attend classes full-time and graduate at age 22-23. Adult learners are everyone that doesn't fit the "traditional" model. They encompass a wide range of people. Often—but not always—adult learners may:

  • be parents of dependent or grown children;
  • need to work full-time to support themselves;
  • be over 25 years old (or younger with adult responsibilities);
  • be the first person in their family to go to college;
  • have much more responsibility outside of school than traditional students;
  • be returning to school to complete a degree they started earlier in life;
  • be returning to school to change careers.

Essentially, if you don't feel like a "traditional" student you are probably an adult learner, and we are happy to help you in any way that we can.

You are not alone!

One of the common concerns of prospective adult learners is the idea that they are going to be the only older person in a class full of students that are fresh out of high school. In reality, WKU has nearly 4,000 adult learner students—approximately 20% of the entire undergraduate enrollment. More than half of part-time students are over the age of 25. Approximately 40% of extended campus students are over 25 years old.

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young." --Mark Twain

Carrie Dean opted to go straight to work out of high school and worked her way up to a position with great benefits.  But a few years ago, the company outsourced her position and she decided to get a four year college degree.

A family health issue kept John Bailey from finishing his degree more than 20 years ago.  He's now back in school to further his education and create some additional opportunities in his law enforcement career.

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 Last Modified 9/24/14