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Challenges Adults Face in Their Learning


November 4, 2019



Challenges Adults Face in Their Learning

Taking up a new degree or an additional course could be the stepping stone for that much-awaited promotion or a job. Whatever the type of job, picking up new skills is the key to furthering one’s career.

Career advancement is an exciting prospect, but it is not a journey without difficulties. It is a commitment, for education costs time, energy, and money. Adults face a unique set of challenges that require the right type of learning solution that addresses this barrier and helps tackle them.

Defining an adult learner

But how does one define an adult learner?

Adult learners are not “traditional students” in the conventional sense of the word. Unlike children, adults are autonomous and study out of choice.

Adults also have other responsibilities, such as job and family commitments. Though they are intrinsically motivated to reach their goals, maintaining a high level of motivation can be tricky.

The Challenges of an Adult Learner

No doubt that there are benefits to pursuing a subject that one is passionate about or learning a new skill. However, managing adult life and education can be a tough task for many individuals. Here are some common issues that adult learners face:

Adult Learning Challenge #1 – Scarcity of Time

Balancing professional and family commitments with educational obligations can be very difficult, considering the packed life schedule. Even if one manages to squeeze in some time for study, one needs to consider if they have the energy to do so.

Adult Learning Challenge #2 – Financial Limitations

Finance can be a big factor in adult education. With mouths to feed and monthly bills to be considered, financing a course or class can often be considered as an avoidable expense. According to a study by a U.K.-based university, when university fees were increased in 2012, adult students dropped by 20 percent.

Adult Learning Challenge #3 – Anxiety of failure

Another big barrier to adult learners is the lack of confidence in their ability to complete the course successfully. For many, going back to studying would feel like a step backward, as they would be out of their comfort zone and exposing themselves to potential failure.

Adult Learning Challenge #4 – Flexibility in schedule

Since adults will be busy during traditional work hours, they will have limited time available to study. Therefore, adult learners require a highly flexible class schedule. With other personal commitments too, visiting the campus would be a daunting task for anyone.

Adult Learning Challenge #5 – Resistant to change

Since adult learners come with perceptions that are shaped by their previous experiences, they tend to be more established in their ways. Profound experiences can influence learning and result in a reluctance to accept new ideas or perceptions. Aging can also impact learning since adults tend to learn less with increasing age. But the positive aspect is that the depth of learning and the ability to apply this knowledge and skill to personal levels increases.

Finding the solution

One of the solutions is to choose an online boot camp that offers alternatives to traditional educational options. A typical online boot camp breaks the following adult-learner barriers:

  • Flexible class:
    Considering that adults have a lot to juggle in their lives, they cannot attend classes at set times and locations. The feasible solution would be to take up an online course that has a flexible pace for completion. This will give the adult learner to study at their own pace even while working.
  • Value for money:
    Adults have several financial commitments in their lives. Therefore, one needs to look at options that do not strain their finances. One option would be to check if the fees can be covered by the employer if the study is relevant to the job being performed. If not, the other option would be to pay the fees in installments. There are some college banking options that can provide loans or scholarship opportunities to provide financial support to students.
  • Support network:
    Adult learners may need to connect with others who are facing similar situations. This gives them a sense of assurance that they are on the right path. Some online courses combine the best of both: flexibility and a tutor who will function as a mentor for the adult learner. This reassures the learner and reduces the risk of student dropout due to disconnect.

With the right mindset and the right learning options, one can enhance their skillsets without having to quit their jobs or their career aspirations.


Guest Author Daniel Brown

Daniel Brown is a senior technical editor and writer that has worked in the education and technology sectors for two decades. Their background experience includes curriculum development and course book creation.

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