How to Attract and Help the Adult Learner

This time of year, students everywhere are doubling down on researching colleges. They buy books to help them make the right choices — and there are choices to be made. We might think we know what those choices are: what to major in, which prerequisite courses to start with, even which meal plan to buy.

But we might not think about choices some other students are routinely faced with: how do I arrange my job schedule? Who will take care of my kids?

Fact is, according to National Public Radio, “40 percent of college students are 25 and older — well out of high school — and many have kids, full-time jobs, or both.” And navigating these decisions for them is made even more difficult by the fact that, according to author Rebecca Klein-Collins, “there are hundreds if not thousands of colleges out there that are not really designed for the adult learner.” 

In an interview with NPR, Klein-Collins talks about the book she wrote to help those students: it’s called Never Too Late: The Adult Student’s Guide to College.

Colleges today can recognize that there are students with great job experience, technical training, even military service. They may be raising a family. There are unique ways of measuring this knowledge acquired from work, life, or military experience, like the CLEP (the College-Level Examination Program), which offers 33 exams that cover intro-level college course material.

Colleges must recognize — because 40 percent is a big number — that flexible programs like weekend or evening classes, or online classes, or even shorter terms, can help adult learners who cannot simply quit their job to go back to school.

“In an ideal world,” says Klein-Collins, “we would have a whole network of career and education advisors available to every American.” It is imperative that the adult learner “avoid costly mistakes,” and Klein-Collins’ book sets out to help that.

Capture Higher Ed knows that finding the right student means likewise finding the right college. We’re not about to add to those costly mistakes. Colleges, too, can keep their minds open and not be one of the colleges that Klein-Collins advises the adult learner to not “waste a moment” on.

By Sean Hill, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed