Adult Learners and Non-Traditional Students

Because adult learners and non-traditional students typically have greater personal experience and mature perspectives, studying abroad is an enriching and rewarding opportunity. All students will need to navigate intercultural social situations, adjust to student life in the host culture, and adjust to new housing arrangements, but these can create unique challenges for adult students.

As an adult learner, you may have extensive responsibilities, including a full or part-time job, financial obligations, limited time, family and/or childcare duties, or home maintenance. Because of these demands and expectations, you will need to be organized and solution-oriented before and during your study abroad experience.

We encourage you to discuss any concerns or questions you have with the faculty director or your study abroad program coordinator.

Short-Term Program Participants: Questions to Consider

  • If you have a job, what are your employer’s expectations while you are abroad? If required, will you be able to respond to email or fulfill other duties while also maintaining course and program requirements?
  • What normal duties and responsibilities do you have during the time you will be traveling, and how will you manage those while you are gone?
  • What financial obligations (mobile phone plans, rent, house payment, utilities) can you plan ahead for now? 
  • Where will you be staying and with whom?  What adjustments can you make, if needed, to be comfortable in your housing?
  • What steps can you take to connect with other students on the program?
  • Are there any age restrictions on discounts, tickets, etc., that you should be aware of?

Long-Term Program Participants

Semester students will want to work with their program coordinator and on-site staff to make sure that they will be comfortable and feel integrated on their chosen programs. In many countries, students start college later in life, have jobs, or have families. In these environments, adult learners should be easily accommodated. In countries where most students enter a university environment immediately after finishing secondary school, adult learners may find that they struggle to fit in and that the host institution’s programs and services have been designed with a younger audience in mind. We encourage you to speak with the on-site coordinator and your study abroad program coordinator to help you navigate these issues.

Long-Term Program Participants: Questions to Consider

  • What housing options are offered, and what accommodation choices can you make so that you are comfortable and integrated into the host country?
  • How are housing choices and lifestyles impacted by age?
  • If you have a job while in the U.S., how will you make up that lost income? Are international students allowed to work in your host country?
  • As you may not have access to the same support and social networks you have in the U.S., how can you meet other peers and integrate with locals?
  • How do visa restrictions, health insurance requirements, or other legal concerns vary based on age or family responsibilities?