Adult student typing on a computer

The ABCs of College Applications for Adult Students

Melissa Marcello

Over the years, I've talked to many adult students who were intimidated by the college application process. They were concerned about sounding too eager - or not interested enough - in their responses to the essay questions. They were worried that their past academic record, a low SAT score, or considerable time spent away from formal learning would be a barrier to entry. Mainly, they feared that they would not "do it right" (i.e., complete the application in a way that positioned them in a favorable light), and ultimately would be overlooked when their application was submitted and reviewed by the admission committee.

I'd like to dispel these myths and help adult students understand what many schools that serve adult learners, including Champlain College Online, look for when they're reviewing a college admissions application. Quite simply, schools that serve adult learners are typically examining very different admission criteria than those who serve traditional-aged students. And this is because what makes an adult student successful in completing their degree has little to do with a standardized test score and everything to do with the student's journey, and in particular, his or her grit and resilience.


Always Be Candid

A question for your consideration: What have you done in your personal or professional life that shows your ability to stick with something and persevere when the odds were not in your favor?

When I think of the ABCs of college applications, these three words come to mind: always be candid. Members of admissions committees, like myself, want to get to know you. We want YOU to come through. We want the unbridled truth about a poor prior academic record (a number of our best students have had less than stellar grades their first time around), we want to know what the completion of this degree or certificate will mean to you personally or professionally, and we especially want to know what has happened in your life to bring you to this place of beginning your academic journey anew with Champlain. Finally, we want to know why now is the time for you. Another question for your consideration: why is now the right time? What will you do to set yourself up right now for success?


Speak to the Admissions Team

Even before you begin your application or even mid-way through, it is highly recommended that you contact a member of the admissions team who can talk with you about your goals and coach you from beginning to end of the application process. Be sure to be candid with your rep too, as the more information your rep has about you, your goals, background, and experiences, the better they will be able to recommend an academic pathway that will help you to achieve them.

About the Author

Melissa Marcello

Former Associate Vice President

Melissa Marcello was the Associate Vice President of Champlain College Online, where she oversaw marketing and admissions, truED, Champlain's workforce development program, and other administrative processes. She is passionate about adult learning, having returned to school herself as an adult to finish a bachelor's at USF, master's at Purdue, and start two years of a PhD program at the UW Madison that she may one day complete.

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