The Rise of Adult Learners

There is a growing population in higher education that universities should be shifting their attention and efforts toward - adult learners. Adult learners can be defined as a college student over the age of twenty-five. 

According to a study done by the National Student Clearninghouse (NSC), there were 36 million Americans in 2019 that held some college experience, but no degree. Ten percent of those 36 million individuals were likely to re-enroll in a higher education program to finish their degrees. 

What does this mean for universities? Opportunity.

Higher education institutions can make the shift to focusing their efforts on adult learners in addition to recruiting and retaining traditional students. The needs of adult learners are slightly different than that of the traditional student, but identifying those needs and addressing them could bring both growth and potential to higher education institutions. 

How can universities in the higher industry sector cater to the unique needs of this nontraditional population?

Study and understand the adult learner population.

Universities must study and learn about the characteristics of an adult learner as an initial step to serving this unique population. As many higher education institutions make the transition for recruiting and enrolling adult learners, task forces are bring created and campus communities are being educated.

Create new and alter existing programs to align with the busy schedules of adult learners. 

Universities can assess previously earned college credits, professional training, and military service and apply prior-learning credits to degree programs. Creating online programs which require little to on-campus attendance demonstrates both flexibility and convenience. Adult learners may prefer online or part-time programs to balance their education with personal and professional lives. 

Remove obstacles that may deter adult learners from earning a degree.

The typical admissions process for a traditional college freshman includes everything from standardized tests to on-campus orientations and tours. Adult learners value both speed and convenience when applying and enrolling to a higher education institution. Either existing structures have to be altered or new policies have to be adopted for adult-serving programs to eliminate barriers that may turn adult students away. 

Find your degree as an adult learner at USI!

Are you an adult learner seeking a college degree? USI Online Learning offers 13+ online undergraduate degree completion and graduate programs. Whether you are a busy parent or full-time professional, our flexible schedules and caring faculty are accessible to you. We are here to help you achieve your dream of a college degree.

Check out our available programs and request more information below!


Online Learning

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