The University Experience of Students 50 Years Old and Older
MetadataShow full metadata
There have been several reasons for older people attending colleges and universities including increased life expectancy, growth in the older student population, multiple careers, economics, and the changing dynamics within institutions. The research was conducted in a southwestern state university with over 29,000 students that offer almost 200 programs for bachelors, master’s, and doctoral degrees. All undergraduates 50 and older were contacted and the response rate was 54.2%. This thesis combines a quantitative study with thematic Open-Ended Questions to identify why undergraduates who were 50 and much older attend college. Several variables were analyzed including: student engagement, academic goal orientation, and educational reasons for attending college. Additionally, the participants' race/ethnicity, gender, status, campus access, family academic history, and household income were analyzed. Reliability tests and t-tests were performed against the results gleaned from the test instruments. Responses from Open-Ended Questions provided themes which correlated to the quantitative responses. Finally, the findings identified positive and negative experiences for undergraduates 50 and older, along with their challenges, concerns, and recommendations regarding the university, personnel, courses, and mobility dilemmas. After analyzing all the data, the following recommendations were proposed: (1) improvement with the advisor and counseling process, (2) course offering adjustments and enhancements, (3) improvement in parking relating to mobility concerns, and (4) extension of office hours during the school week.