Non-Traditional Students

An education abroad is a very valuable experience to enhance one’s resume, outlook, and career, no matter the age. While adult students often face unique obligations surrounding your family, work, parenting, and home life obligations that may appear as obstacles to deter you from studying abroad. Participating in Short-Term Faculty Led programs may be an option, Education Abroad Office also helps support non-traditional students in semester- and year-long programs, as well.

Common concerns among non-traditional students include the age difference from their fellow study abroad participants, isolation due to age, living situations, if other adults will be present, how children at home will fare, and how people abroad will view adult students. The Education Abroad Office can work with you and your host program to ensure your needs can be met and, in many cases, appropriate accommodations can be made.

Here are a few things to consider and questions to ask when choosing a program:

  • Is it possible to take a minor child or a partner along with me when I study abroad?
  • Can I request not to have a roommate, or to be placed with a host family that shares my interests and age?
  • If I am not able to be away for very long due to family obligations, how do I get the most out of a short-term experience abroad?
  • Will there be other adult students on my program?
  • What skills do I want to gain or improve while I am abroad?
  • Do I want a program that maximize my experience abroad by finding a program that offers practical experience (internship, research) in addition to regular courses?
  • What scholarships are out there that can support funding my education abroad?

Be sure to research what people in your host country like to do and where they live. For example, do they work? Do they live with extended family or on their own? Sometimes you might feel that you do not fit in with other students on your program, but remember to get to know them & have them get to know you!


Recommended Books and Articles

No Age Limits for Study Abroad – an article about a 29-year-old woman’s study abroad experience in France.

“The Experiential Course: An Alternative to Study Abroad for Nontraditional Students.” 1997, Foreign Language Annals. Long, D.

“An Older, More Diverse Group of American Students is Expected to Participate in Study-Abroad Programs.” Desruisseaux. 1992, Nov 25. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Study Abroad: An Opportunity for Adult and Continuing Education Students to Study in the Hispanic World.” 1997, April. Sejut, M.P (Doctoral dissertation, The Union Institute, 1996). Dissertation Abstracts International.


Adapted from Loyola University Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Madison