Advancing Adult Learner Success

May 16, 2022
  • Re-Envisioning Transfer
  • Webinars
  • adult learners
  • volunteer
Group of adult students walking away from a building.

There are many reasons why nearly 70% of Americans without a college degree have not enrolled in higher education or completed a credential. The path to completion comes with challenges for working adults: A recent survey found that the top two reasons adults stopped out of higher education were financial concerns and family or personal commitments.

Investigating Equity

Significant equity concerns also exist: Black and Latino adults were already less likely than white adults before the COVID-19 pandemic to have a bachelor’s degree, and enrollment of Black students decreased by nearly 15% from fall 2019 to fall 2021, outpacing the 13% decline for White students. Moreover, when Black and Latino students do enroll, it takes them longer to complete a degree on average, and their degrees provide less economic return than for White students.

Other prospective learners don’t even enroll in higher education, convinced that it provides no economic payoff. As of 2020, nearly 40% of aspiring adult learners did not think additional education would be worth the cost, up from 23% in 2019. Helping this group complete a degree and unlock more opportunities in the workforce starts with getting them to believe in the value and power of college.

Get Involved

Join AACRAO and the President’s Forum in a series of free virtual convenings exploring both barriers to and supports for adult learner success. This first convening, moderated by Executive Director Melanie Gottlieb, begins on Thursday, May 19 at 12:00 P.M. EST and covers the start of the adult learner educational journey. It explores the skepticism about higher education’s value and ability to promote equitable economic outcomes and discusses how institutional leaders can demonstrate otherwise. This series also discusses strategies to help institutional leaders understand the challenges and barriers adults face in their career journeys and help adults enter (or re-enter) higher education.

Attend Advancing Adult Learner Success: Regaining Learners’ Trust: Strategies for Adult Student Enrollment Success on Thursday, May 19, 12 p.m. ET.


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