Entering Higher Education After 30: What Can Be Learned from Biographical Narratives of Non-Traditional Students

Leanete Thomas Dotta, Carlinda Leite, Amélia Lopes


The needs of the market and of knowledge society, combined with democratic ideals, have justified policies that encourage the adult population to continue their studies. Portugal has been following this political movement, which in turn drives non-traditional students to higher education. In order to uncover the reasons that lead these students to enter higher education and the challenges it poses to them, research was conducted using biographical narratives. These narratives revealed the existence and effects of intrinsic motivations related to the satisfaction of learning and to the pleasures of taking part in stimulating activities and of achieving or overcoming something. They also showed the importance of having strategies to combat dispositional, situational, and institutional barriers in order to prevent non-traditional students from dropping out.

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higher education; non-traditional students; biographical narratives


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