- Adult learners are expected to grow as a major part of the undergraduate enrollment population in the next nine years, a data point that will require financial and structural adjustments from institutions and states.
- More flexible scheduling in courses, unique options for billing and additional credentialing opportunities for industry-specific majors are all accommodations adult learners often require.
- States like Florida, Tennessee and New York have introduced legislation to induce institutions to recruit adult learners.
An influx of adult learners will bring a new set of challenges for campuses as officials try to figure out how to grapple with tuition rebates and reimbursements for employers, required student healthcare benefits and differences in needs in learning academic technologies. While many of these challenges will be answered with careful research and planning in core student service and academic offices, the costs of additional personnel will also be a factor.
Schools should look to partner with large-scale employers, like government and big manufacturers, to identify ways in which some workers could be directed to training programs, some to online learning options and others to on-campus learning, in order to balance the potential stress on staffing and systems.