Attending college full-time is generally for younger people, and almost every campus is filled with their optimism and excitement. In past decades, it was enough to obtain a degree that would be useful for a lifetime of employment. That is no longer the case as technology continues to change the basic way life as well as business is conducted, so older students are beginning to attend in larger numbers.
The beauty of college is that students get out of it what they are willing to put into it in terms of effort, and older students often have a job on the line when they make the choice to attend. They are not concerned with socializing or finding friends, so they concentrate heavily on their academic achievements. This gives them an edge, but it can also be balanced by their need to continue working while they take classes.
Unlike younger students seeking to complete a degree program, many older students have already earned a degree and are returning to update it. Some of them will be able to use their former degree towards one in another discipline, so they will tend to take only the minimum required classes for the field. They are seldom interested in more than their current need, and socializing is not part of their plan.
Working while attending college has become more popular due to employment needs, but retirees have also found a great deal of value in attending. Many of them are seeking knowledge rather than a degree, but there are some who have found they want to have an academic accomplishment they were unable to pursue in earlier years due to family obligations or work. Their presence on college campuses is social as well as academic, and they are beginning to change the face of college attendance in remarkable and interesting ways.