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Instilling Persistence in Adult Learners for Greater Retention

05 - SEPTEMBER - 2020

The demographics of higher education are experiencing an unprecedented shifts with declining enrollments due to conflicting interests and responsibilities of learners. Colleges and institutions are working to market more flexible pathways of degree completion to non-traditional learners, but many parents and working learners continue to face various challenges, barricading their route to completing their degree programs.

Adult learners are becoming the new normal for on and off campus university programs, therefore, to fully harness the talents and potential of this rapidly growing segment of students, higher education institutions need to adopt new pathways and redesign themselves in ways that recognize and address the needs of this student segment.

Career is at the core of most adult students who are enrolled in the higher education programs. Many 18 year olds may go to college to discover their passion and explore, but not these adult learners, who return to college with the sole reason of advancing their careers. Institutions need to work on linking their courses of study with career outcomes by consorting with industry leaders and employers, in order to establish learning goals, generate work-based learning opportunities, and ensure that student learning and skills are aligned to allow them to advance in their career.

Moreover, most adult learners are employed and also parents, with responsibilities and priorities to manage and juggle amongst. Financial constraints also overburden these adult learners and require greater degree of flexibility from their courses and instructors. Curbing the cost through financial aid and scholarships, and finding innovative ways to keep the cost of their education low and creating flexible schedules is essential to reduce the insurmountable barriers of education and help these adult students in staying enrolled.

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