University Press

A look at the diverse age range of FAU’s student body

The university's population consists of students as young as 14 and as old as as 80.

While+the+average+age+of+an+FAU+student+is+24%2C+the+student+body+is+made+up+of+both+high+school+students+and+those+over+30.+Illustration+by+Joey+Sena
While the average age of an FAU student is 24, the student body is made up of both high school students and those over 30. Illustration by Joey Sena

While the average age of an FAU student is 24, the student body is made up of both high school students and those over 30. Illustration by Joey Sena

While the average age of an FAU student is 24, the student body is made up of both high school students and those over 30. Illustration by Joey Sena

Alexander Rodriguez, Staff Writer

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Editor’s note: This story is a part of our print issue on diversity which looks at differences in beliefs, race, gender/sexuality, age, disabilities, and social class among FAU students.

Between transfers, recent high school graduates, FAU High School students, and older students starting or finishing their degrees, the age range at FAU is unique.

Of the university’s 29,594 students, there are 9,722 who are 24 years or older, the average age at FAU. But the Boca campus also has 570 students between the ages of 14-18 thanks to its FAU High School program.

And every year, FAU has students graduate who are as old as 81, the Sun Sentinel reported. While the age gap can be significant, students still find common ground no matter their age.

Shared experiences

There’s one thing students old and young can agree on: college is a way to improve their situation. And some believe the age gap at FAU is more important than people realize.

“Having a diverse age range on a college campus increases the perspectives and experiences among its students,” 17-year-old sophmore Marissa Van Horn said. “It’s extremely valuable to have that range in lifestyle, it creates an environment in which people can learn from each other.”

She added that she’s met students significantly older than her and that despite this, they had similar hobbies.

“One particularly interesting conversation I had was with a man in my General Chemistry 2 lab. We found that both of us were Dungeon Masters,” Van Horn said. “It was very interesting to meet an older student who shares one of my greatest interests.”

Multimedia journalism major Carlos Gomez, 55, said that despite his age, he understands the stress and difficulties younger students will face after graduating.

He added that he hates when people his age say “the younger generation has it easier than the older generation” because he thinks millennials have it just as difficult, if not more so.

Kiona Kumpulainen, a 20-year-old junior communication major, has met several students around her mother’s age.   

“I treat them with the same respect as if they were someone my age,” Kumpulainen said. “I make them feel included in class and treat them as the fellow students they are.”

Does age matter?

Some students at FAU believe the age gap ends up being valuable in the long run.

“I believe that it is beneficial because each of us can bring something different to the table,” 27-year-old FAU math major Melecio Lara said. “I have noticed that [younger students] tend to speak differently from when I was at that age.”

James Capp, FAU assistant provost for Academic Operations and Planning, said FAU values age differences in its student body.

“FAU proactively recruits students from a variety of backgrounds who grew up in completely different circumstances and can share their unique insights with their peers,” Capp said. “The best classroom discussions occur as a result of hearing from new perspectives.”

Sophomore biology major Sagan Potenza, 16, is an FAU High student. As part of the university program, he takes both high school and college classes on the Boca campus.

Potenza said he thinks interacting with the different age groups is an opportunity to grow.

“[The wide age range] allows a whole bunch of groups of people to come together and interact, and in a world that’s getting more divided every day,” he said. “I think I can learn a lot from older students. They have much more experience than me in a ton of different situations.”

Why FAU?

There are several programs that attract older and younger students to the university, like FAU High. The dual-enrollment program allows high school students to enroll in college classes full time for free.

Another program, LINK, offers priority admissions and advising for transfer students coming from Broward College, Palm Beach State College, and Indian River State College, according to Capp, which tends to attract older students.

FAU also offers more than 30 online undergraduate and graduate degrees, which are traditionally pursued by older students. About a third of FAU enrollments are either fully or partially online, Capp said.

Van Horn said, “Not everyone who wants to attend college has the opportunity to do so right out of high school, which is completely fine.”

Middle of the Pack

FAU falls in the middle of several state universities when it comes to the number of students over 24.

*Florida State University, the University of Central Florida, Florida A&M University, New College of Florida, the University of West Florida, the University of North Florida, and Florida Polytechnic University did not respond as of publication time.*

Alexander Rodriguez is a staff writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet @AARodriguezz93.

About the Photographer
Kerri-Marie Covington, Senior Copy Editor

Kerri is a biology major at Florida Atlantic. She served as a copy editor and an assistant copy desk chief in the fall of 2015 before becoming a senior...

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