How to Better Serve Returning Adult Students

June 19, 2015

Up to 35 million Americans have enrolled in college at some point but failed to earn a degree or certificate. A new report from Higher Ed Insight, a research firm, tracks the challenges adult students face when they return to college. The 69-page document is an evaluation of the Lumina Foundation's adult college completion work. It seeks to describe what works with this population, in part by looking at local, state and national partnerships that bring together higher education and employers to better serve and engage returning adult students.

Several key changes in policy and practice would benefit these students, according to the report. They include:

  • Access to advisers who are capable of addressing adult students' complex needs;
  • Student services that are available during nontraditional business hours, or online;
  • Additional sources of financial aid, particularly at the state level;
  • More transparency about transfer credit policies, including before students enroll;
  • Flexible course scheduling, online courses and innovative degree-completion programs;
  • Access to opportunities to earn credit for prior learning.
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