Course Progress

Topic 2: Challenges of fitting into the university community

Within this lesson, we will be discussing the specific issues adult learners face when transitioning to university life.

The purpose of running you through these challenges is not to dishearten you, but to make you more aware of the difficulties faced by adult learners.

Challenges faced by adult learners

As we have already discussed, adult learners often struggle adapting to university life. Did you know for example, Mature students are almost twice as likely to leave after one year of a first degree as young students (HEFCE, 2017)? Why could this be? Well, there are a few reasons:

  • “Out of the game” feeling (Bowl, 2003, p.123) – Many mature students have had break in formal education before university, this can lead to them feeling isolated in their experience in comparison to some of their younger peers!
  • Invisible demands (Plagemen and Sabina, 2010) – Most of the time, mature learners have external demands outside of university that other students do not – family pressures, commuting, childcare, and household responsibilities” – increased workload.
  • New identity (Wainright and Marandet, 2010, p.458) – Due to the stereotyped student identity we discussed before, mature learners struggle to adapt this, especially as many already a firm identity as parents, careers, and adults!

However, do not let this dishearten you! You are not alone as an adult learner (literally, there are currently 184,600 adult and access learners at level 4 above) and organisations like Hello Future are here to help!