Best Colleges for Adults

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
Adults who are going to college have different priorities and needs than their peers who are just graduating from high school. Read on to learn what makes a school a smart choice for an adult student, along with tools to help adults succeed in college.

Colleges That Are the Best for Adult Students

While no official ranking exists for the 'best' colleges for adults, top contenders are those schools that align with the priorities of adult students. According 'Is College Worth It for Me,' by Public Agenda and the Kresge Foundation, the things that adult college students value most are:

  • Online learning opportunities
  • The opportunity to learn practical skills
  • Affordable tuition
  • High-quality instructors

Whether a student goes to a school on or off this list, however, the quality of instruction will only go so far. Adult college students also need to master critical time management and study skills, such as those taught in this College Success course.

Online Learning Opportunities

It is no surprise that the availability of online courses, which provide flexibility and convenience, are a key consideration for adult college students. Many schools offer some courses or entire degree programs online. The best 10 of these, according to U.S. News & World Report, are outlined below.

Adult college students may also want to consider online courses for which they may earn transfer credit to many universities at a fraction of the fees charged by most colleges. Check out, for example,'s science, business, social sciences, humanities, math and English online college credit courses.

School Location
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach, FL
Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY
University of Illinois - Chicago Chicago, IL
University of Georgia Athens, GA
Temple University Philadelphia, PA
Daytona State College Daytona Beach, FL
Ohio State University - Columbus Columbus, OH
Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
University of Wisconsin - Whitewater Whitewater, WI

The Opportunity to Learn Practical Skills

Most adult college students want their college education to include practical, real-world work opportunities that allow them to gain the hands-on experience that future employers value. According to U.S. News & World Report, the 10 schools below are the best for connecting students with internships. An adult student at any college, however, can improve the chances of getting valuable hands-on experience if they understand the internship process.'s How to Get an Internship course outlines the steps and best practices.

School Location
Bennington College Bennington, VT
College of the Atlantic Bar Harbor, ME
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology Harrisburg, PA
Iowa Wesleyan College Mount Pleasant, IA
Sterling College Sterling, KS
Wagner College New York
Wells College Staten Island, NY
Wheelock College Boston, MA
Husson University Bangor, ME
Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN

Affordable Tuition

The cost of tuition is a critical concern for many adults going to college. Public schools typically cost less than private schools, with the most economical tuitions being for in-state residents. Below are the 10 least expensive public schools, according to U.S. News & World Report. Adult students should also consider financial aid sources that may be available to offset the cost of tuition at any college. For tips and insight, check out these lessons on how to apply for college grants and scholarships.

Tuition Type Top Schools
In-State Bismarck State College (ND)
Fort Hays State University (KS)
Elizabeth City State University (NC)
University of Wyoming
Northeastern State University (OK)
Out-of-State Delta State University (MS)
Minot State University (ND)
West Texas A&M University
Southwest Minnesota State University
Bemidji State University (MN)

High-Quality Instructors

Adult college students understand that quality instructors are key to their academic success. The colleges below are the best at providing outstanding undergraduate teachers, according to U.S. News & World Report.

School Location
Princeton University Princeton, NJ
Dartmouth College Hanover, NH
Brown University Providence, RI
College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA
Miami University - Oxford Oxford, OH
University of Maryland - Baltimore County Baltimore, MD
Yale University New Haven, CT
Stanford University Stanford, CA
Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
Duke University Durham, NC

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.