What is the most common age to start college?


What is the most common age to start college?

What is the most common age to start college?

college student

Going to college is a significant milestone in a person’s life. It is a place where young adults acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in their chosen fields. However, one question that frequently pops up is, what is the most common age to start college? In this article, we will discuss the most common age for college freshmen and explore some reasons why individuals choose to start college at a particular age.

FAQs about the most common age to start college

  1. What is the average age of college freshmen?

    In the US, people often enter college right after graduating from high school. Therefore, the normal age for college freshmen is 18 years of age. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average age of first-time, full-time college students in the United States was approximately 19.2 years old in 2016.

  2. Can you start college at any age?

    Yes, individuals can start college at any age, depending on their goals and circumstances. While most college students are in their late teens or early twenties, students of all ages attend college. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics indicates that around 8% of undergraduate students in the US are 35 years old or older.

  3. Why do some people wait to start college?

    People wait to start college for various reasons. Some individuals may need to work to save money for their education, while others may take gap years to figure out what they want to study. Some may also opt to take a break after high school to travel, pursue a hobby, or gain work experience. Additionally, some individuals may choose to start college later in life due to other commitments, such as raising a family or working.

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group of students

Pros and Cons of Starting College at Different Ages

While the most common age to start college is 18 years old, individuals of different ages may experience a different set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some pros and cons of starting college at different ages:

Starting College in Your Late Teens/Early Twenties


  • Less work experience means more time to focus on learning and building skills
  • More opportunities to bond with peers with similar backgrounds and interests
  • Access to support systems such as college counselors and campus activities


  • High school may be too recent, which can lead to burnout and lack of motivation
  • Too much emphasis on social life and campus activities may negatively impact academic performance
  • Students may face financial and personal pressures to fit in and conform to societal standards

Starting College in Your Late Twenties/Early Thirties


  • More work experience may translate into better career opportunities after graduation
  • Greater self-awareness and life experience may lead to more focused academic and career goals
  • Increased motivation to learn and make the most of the educational opportunity


  • Difficulty adjusting to college life and new environments
  • Limited access to support systems and activities that cater to traditional college-aged students
  • Comparatively lesser time to build networks with peers

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Factors that Affect the Age that People Start College

While age is an essential factor in determining when people start college, several other elements may affect this decision. Some of these include:

  • Educational level: Individuals who have completed high school may be more likely to enter college than those who dropped out.
  • Family income: People from low-income households may not have the same financial resources to attend college immediately after high school as those from a more affluent background.
  • Cultural background: Some cultural and religious traditions may impact the age and other circumstances under which individuals start college.
  • Personal circumstances: Family responsibilities, work commitments, and other personal issues may influence the age that people start college.
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These factors are not uniform and may vary depending on the individual and their situation. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding when to start college.


Starting college is a crucial step in the academic and personal growth of a person. It helps them acquire critical knowledge and skills that they will use throughout their lives. However, the most common age for starting college is 18 years. People of different ages have different circumstances and experiences, which may result in benefits and drawbacks to starting college at different times. Other factors such as educational level, cultural background, and personal circumstances can also influence when a person begins college.


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