Education related experiences of adults age 50 and beyond enrolled in graduate degree programs at Virginia Commonwealth University

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Date
1999
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Volume Title
Publisher
Virginia Tech
Abstract

This study examined the demographic characteristics and education-related experiences of adults age 50 and beyond enrolled in graduate degree programs on the academic campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. The major focus for this study was to identify and examine the experiences of adults age 50 and older enrolled in graduate degree programs.

The population for the study included 113 adults age 50 and older who were enrolled in graduate degree programs on the academic campus of Virginia Commonwealth University between fall 1995 and fall 1996. Surveys were mailed to these potential participants with a total of96 individuals responding. A focus group interview was also conducted in the fall semester of 1996 to gain further insight regarding their experiences; the respondents were eager to share their responses during this session.

The findings in this study revealed that older adults in graduate degree programs at Virginia Commonwealth University were between the ages of 50 to 62, were more often married than not, had no children under the age of eighteen in the household, and most completed their last degree in 1979. The results of the survey revealed that most of the adults did not have negative feelings about their experiences. Overall, these students felt very positive about their educational-related experiences. There were, however, several administrative concerns associated with the selected demographics of gender, occupation, income, marital status, age and major field of study, and .the education-related experiences of these adults. While most respondents agreed that it was very difficult to maintain their family, work and personal life while earning this degree, they were overall satisfied with their experiences and felt challenged even though their socializing time was significantly reduced. The respondents were not as satisfied with the administration and staff because they were not available for support after work hours when they had concerns that needed addressing. They also felt their classrooms were not adequately prepared to accommodate the older learners, especially in regard to having appropriate visual equipment and adequately designed desks for older students.

The data obtained will be useful to Virginia Commonwealth University in making decisions relative to improving existing services, developing innovative programs, designing policies and procedures that will improve recruitment, retention, and completion of adults age 50 and beyond in graduate programs. Further study is needed from this population of students to ascertain whether there are additional experiences that should be examined and explored. A replication of the study may reveal additional information not addressed in this study.

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Keywords
graduate programs, Education, Higher, adult students 50 and beyond
Citation