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Adult Learners – Their Needs and How to Address Them

Adult female learner looking at the laptop
Adult learner
Today our world is more connected than ever, the next professional assignment or the latest customer can be across the block or across the globe. Technology has made it possible for professionals to work in multiple time zones, with diverse portfolios. There is a surge in communication techniques and travel capabilities which has shrunk the planet and expanded the workplace. All these changes have created a need for learning new skills or enhancing one’s knowledge to the next level.


In recent years this has led to the rise of the Adult Learner- Men & Women over 25 years of age, who typically have work experience under their belt and are returning to enhance their skills.

The need for these adult learners are different from traditional learners, their life experiences, social status and challenges faced are not the same as the traditional learners

Their motives for this need to revisit college degrees can be to complete interrupted higher education, qualify for a promotion, look for a job away from where they stay or even learn an altogether new skill for a career change.

Many professionals see this as their chance to fulfill their long-abandoned dream of earning a higher degree which they had to let go due to reasons like, lack of time, job responsibilities, etc.

Now, just as their needs are different so are their motivations, a traditional learner gets a degree to learn the basic skills to get employment or get started on a career path, become independent and start their adult life, but an adult learner wants a specific benefit or a skill set which is essential to his or her career growth.


A traditional learner faces issues like absenteeism, peer pressure, or even parent pressure to get good grades, sometimes they abandon education because of life changes or because they are not able to cope up. The syllabus has to start with the basics and gradually move on to a higher level of the subject. They have a group of many students taking the same subjects and can discuss them in groups and complete assignments.

The challenges in front of an adult learner are totally different, they might not be able to make time for their classes and assignments because they have their jobs or family commitments like children. Their schedules cannot accommodate the traditional class or exam timings. Because they have been a part of the workforce they have a certain grasp of how things work, so maybe the curriculum in a traditional format is not interesting to them. The topics are too basic for them to focus as they have already experienced many issues and resolved them as a part of their job.


An adult learner is savvy with technology as he or she has used computer programs and the internet in the course of their jobs. So visual presentations, videos, spreadsheets can be easily grasped and understood by them. Their response to the curriculum is focussed as they have a basic experience of the topics taught and know how they can use the knowledge in their day to day situations.

They are self-motivated as they can see the benefits that they can gain by getting degrees in the near future. They have peers who are earning more or at a better position as a result of their education.

Today there are many prestigious colleges and universities offering E-learning options for the adult learner making it possible for them to fulfill their dream of getting a higher degree like an MBA or a Ph.D. at their chosen place and time. These online degrees are recognized globally and have equal standing as a traditional on-campus degree.

Online learning provides a suitable option of getting degrees on-the-go with the flexibility of time, subjects, and the pace at which assignments can be completed. All the course material can be accessed online, interaction with the faculty and peers is on the web making it a preferred method for many seeking to enhance their knowledge.

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