How to Get Involved on Campus as an Adult Student

More and more often, as jobs are becoming scare and certain industries are downsizing, adults are going back to college and university to get educated. Sometimes it’s a matter of wanting something new; sometimes it’s a matter of necessity.

Either way, that adult is getting into a lot by entering a crowd that is, predominantly, younger than they are.


Because, at least first, adult students are perceived as… adults. They’re not the same as everyone else. Most college students are coming straight out of high school, or with only a year or two out of the loop, and consequently are of the same general demographic.

How can an adult, normally seen as a figure of outside authority, hope to fit in?

There are ways, of course, and one of them is to become a fixture on campus. A person to whom others can look for fun, guidance and camaraderie when time gets tough on either side of the fence. This guide will provide a few ways in which adults can get involved on campus when going back to school for a degree or a diploma.

1) The first step for getting involved is to get to know people.

Everyone arriving at a new school is on more or less an equal footing, and everybody’s nervous. Take the initiative and start talking to people right away. Soon enough you’ll hit on someone who wants to be a friend. Once that’s done, keep talking to people in your classes – the chances are pretty good that you’ll see the same faces class after class.

2) You need to start looking around for opportunities to participate in campus events: extracurricular classes, movie nights, debates, presentations, any number of things.

Universities and colleges are constantly abuzz with new things to do – you just need to find out when they’re happening and take time to attend. Looking on your student association’s website is a good way to remain abreast of upcoming events, as is keeping an eye on bulletin boards for posters.

3) You should also try and get involved in clubs.

Do you have a hobby you’d like to share with others? A political affiliation? A religious leaning? Look for a club on campus that matches your personality profile and sign up. You can make more friends this way that are of a similar mindset, thereby complimenting the various clashing viewpoints that invariably show up during on-campus life.

Can’t find a club? Then start your own. Most campuses offer funding to clubs that are willing to campaign for members. Show some initiative, look for those with similar interests and put your all into having a good time.

4) Another prime way to get involved in student life on a campus is to campaign for a political position.

Those campuses with a Student Association usually hold elections, and if you can get enough backing you can earn yourself a bit of a voice in campus events and see how things go on behind the scenes. This also looks fantastic on a resume.

5) You can sign up for on-campus jobs that will bring in a bit of extra money and allow you to interact with a greater variety of students.

These can include positions at the campus print shop, the bookstore, the library, the cafeteria or pub, the residences, even as a teaching assistant or tutor.

Final Word

There are dozens of ways to get involved in campus life as an adult, but all of them involve one factor: a willingness to be bold. The shy and timid will find themselves stuck behind their books all day, not talking, and then post-secondary education won’t be fun at all. Speak up, be heard and don’t be afraid to engage strangers in conversation – you’ll be surprised how friendly most students are, despite any age disparity.

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