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Increasing Access and Success for Adult Learners

Student Success Adult Learners and Students with Children

Community colleges have a long history of access, inclusion, and opportunity. They have built a path to higher education for a wide spectrum of students: those with disabilities, veterans, immigrants, and first-generation, low-income, minority, and adult learners. While many factors influence year-to-year priorities within individual community colleges, their essential mission remains unchanged: to provide postsecondary education opportunities to all who can benefit. This module introduces community college practices and programs that effectively support adult learners, provides opportunities for readers to assess their knowledge and skills in a variety of areas related to supporting adult learners, and shares research results that demonstrate what colleges and universities can learn from their community college colleagues.

This module is a part of the Increasing Adult Learner Completion and Persistence Rates short course. The complete course includes 9 total modules that are each available for purchase individually or as a course bundle.

This course is based on material from Increasing Adult Learner Persistence and Completion Rates: A Guide for Student Affairs Leaders and Practitioners, published and copyrighted by NASPA in 2014. The book was funded by a grant from the Lumina Foundation. Developed by NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Supported by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Community and Technical College System.

This module is based on the chapter authored by Denise Swett and Marguerite Culp.

Although the nine modules available in this course bundle focus on different topics, they send five consistent messages:

  • Colleges and universities need to build on the knowledge and experiences that adult learners bring to their institutions;
  • no one can do it alone: collaboration, both internal and external, matters;
  • student affairs must partner with adult learners to determine what they know, what their goals are, and what they need to succeed;
  • support services must be intentionally designed, intelligently delivered, and thoughtfully assessed; and
  • the future of student affairs may well depend on its ability to understand and effectively leverage technology.

Embedded in each module is another powerful message: The time for incremental change is over.

Course Length
Course Type
Short Course

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