Adult Undergraduate Students

The focus on this paper was to determine if non-traditional students involvement or lack of involvement affected their learning outcomes. The first factor was based on college activities: course and other related learning, organizations and activities, on and off-campus work, and off campus community activities. The second factor was based on academic development such as: intellectual development, problem solving, and career development. The study also focused on students’ attitudes based on educational ethos, how students view the college and faculty’s concern about students, and their sense of attachment to the college and other students.

The results showed that the learning outcomes were similar or better for adult students compared to younger students. The more adult students involved themselves in activities the better their learning outcome. According to the article, for adult students the greatest influence is class related activities and relationships with faculty, whereas, younger students the greatest influence was peer relationships. For both traditional and non-traditional students, educational ethos played a more important role than any involvement or time spent in other activities. I was a non-traditional undergraduate student when I considered going back to school to get my degree and since I had been out of school awhile one of my biggest concerns was my studying habits. Similar to what the article stated regarding non-traditional students I felt no need or desire to join activities,
I had little interest in activities and was more interested in studying and improving my study habits. Non-traditional students usually have to juggle family, work and school they may concentrate more on what needs to be accomplished. I was somewhat surprised by the outcome of the survey I would have thought non-traditional students would be less involved in college activities and organizations due to additional responsibilities. The article stated that adult non-traditional students have little time for activities that offer no direct benefits to them. This could be due to a certain mature level and life experiences non-traditional students deal with. However, I could see how increased involvement by adult students in organizations would benefit them more than traditional students, their outside experiences allows them to benefit fully from involvement in activities that may further their already established careers.

Many adult students re-enter college to further their careers or change careers so involvement in specific career-oriented organizations would be beneficial and cause adult students to increase their involvement in activities, thus, increasing their learning outcomes. Also, the study mentioned it didn’t focus on the quality of the involvement but I would think if the learning outcomes were significant and better for adult non-traditional students than that would possibly mean the quality was appropriate and effective. I agree with the article about the educational ethos aspect, when I first attended college as a traditional freshman I didn’t feel the school cared much. I felt no attachment to the school or to other students and felt that the faculty was not concerned with my academic success. This experience was very upsetting and I became totally disenchanted with the school and eventually dropped out.

So, I agree that traditional and non-traditional students rely heavy on these educational ethos than they do on other activities. I could have joined organizations my freshman year but I didn’t feel like I belonged. Although involvement in activities may be encouraged to support academic success educational ethos seem to determine academic success more so. Based on the research, educational ethos are more important than college activities and some students may need to feel accepted before they will even consider engaging in activities, however, some could join activities to feel more accepted. The statistics showed non-traditional adult students fairing as well, if not better, than traditional younger students, however, the authors still mentioned getting more adult students involved perhaps by using coffee houses. I disagree for the need to get non-traditional students more involved for a couple of reasons. School life is the primary goal for traditional younger students, however, that is not the case for older adult students.

Many adults students don’t have the time to engage in various activities; family, work, and other outside responsibilities prevent them from doing this and school may not be of primary importance like it is for traditional younger students who don’t have many outside responsibilities, so efforts to get them more involved may fail and be ineffective. The desire is there to finish school and perhaps engage in college activities but it may be put on the back burner because other things take precedent. Also, involvement in activities to encourage and produce academic success maybe more of the primary school way of thinking, once students are in college understanding that achieving academic success is important to a successful career becomes more obvious.

I understand the need to become involved in college activities to expand one’s knowledge and experiences and that’s more appropriate for traditional students but non-traditional students have, at times, more important and multiple responsibilities that prevent them from having the time or desire to become more involved in college activities and organizations.

References Graham, S. W., & Gisi, S. L. (Fall 2000). Adult undergraduate students: What role does college involvement play? NASPA Journal, 38(1), 99-121

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