Students in higher education often are defined as "adult learners" or "non–traditional students" if they are 25 twenty–five years of age or older, and, more significantly, if they have taken on what we consider adult roles and responsibilities, such as caring for children and other family members, working full–time, or participating heavily in community activities. Adult students typically are not focused on campus life in the same way that younger, "traditional–aged" students are. Therefore, our theories of the importance of the campus experience outside the classroom to student development usually do not hold for adults. Yet, adults can and do learn and develop through their engagement in formal higher education. Adults bring experiences and wisdom into the classroom, and receive a learning experience that informs their own professional and personal practices.
This is the 102nd issue of the quarterly journal New Directions for Student Services.
DEBORAH KILGORE is an assistant professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Iowa State University in Ames. Her research interests include adult learning in groups and the education of adults in the United States within the context of large–scale social policies.
PENNY J. RICE is director of the Margaret Sloss Women′s Center at Iowa State University in Ames. Before this, she held the positions of director of off campus and adult students services, Iowa State University, and director of adult and graduate student services, Texas A&M University in College Station.