Degree Name

Education Specialist (EdS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Paul D. Overton


Adult students over the age of 25 have comprised a significant proportion of student body in traditionally youth-oriented institutions of higher education. At Eastern, adult students comprised 7.2 percent of the population of undergraduate students in the Fall, 1986. Based on an institutional survey, this study attempted to gain a deeper understanding about adult students' academic and personal experiences of returning to a four-year university.

One-fourth of the adult students (N=183) were randomly selected and invited to participate in this study. A total of 104 adult students returned the questionnaires. Participants' responses were categorized into six groups in accordance with their age levels and gender. It was hypothesized that age and gender would have significant influence on adult students' satisfaction with returning to higher education, including their evaluation of the qualities of instructors.

It was found that most of the adult students were married, currently employed, and financially supported themselves to attend school on a part-time basis. About 79 percent of the adult students have completed two-year college degrees or have had some college experience. Career-related factors and a need of enhancing self-identity motivated adult students to pursue a higher education. Generally, adult students were satisfied with their overall experience of returning to school and perceived that their academic performance was about or above average. Mostly, the interpersonal relationships between adult students and the younger traditional college students were described (by the adult students) as friendly and communicable.

Testing of the hypotheses revealed that age and gender did not have a significant influence on the degree of adult students' overall satisfaction with returning to higher education. However, female adult students perceived that their instructors were more accessible than did male adult students.