College options for adults


Helping Adult Learners

CFNC Logo      UNC Logo      NC Independent Logo

Are you an adult seeking to begin or resume higher education? Adult learners often face uniquely different circumstances than traditional students, but North Carolina’s public and independent colleges and universities provide a variety of programs and learning approaches designed to help.


  • Distance education/online options at many schools allow you to take some or all of your coursework online, minimizing, and sometimes eliminating, the need to go to campus. These options can also allow you to attend a school outside your geographic location.
  • Accelerated programs offer the opportunity to complete degrees and/or certificates on a shorter timeline, letting you finish more quickly and possibly at a lower cost.
  • Evening/weekend options provide students with flexibility to complete coursework while still working during the week. These options are sometimes paired with accelerated programs to help you finish your degree or credential sooner.
  • CLEP (the College-Level Examination Program®) was created to help individuals with prior knowledge in a subject earn their degree efficiently and inexpensively. Prior learning through advanced high school courses, independent reading and study, online courseware or textbooks, noncredit courses, or on-the-job training could earn you three or more college credits via 34 different subject-area exams.
  • All students, even adult learners, should assume that they may be eligible for financial aid. Applying for federal financial aid is always free at, so it never hurts to try. Additionally, individual schools typically can offer some level of campus-based aid, so consider all schools, regardless of cost.
  • Childcare options provided by some campuses let students attend class without having to worry about lining up childcare, helping older students more easily and comfortably complete a program.