- The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning recently shared with Education Dive the need for higher ed institutions to more effectively address the unique learning styles of older, non-traditional students.
- A spokesperson for the council said via email that some institutions are serving adult populations well with services like weekend and accelerated degree programs and online offerings, but smaller private and state schools still tend to be behind in approaching these groups, which value flexibility and convenience.
- Considering how to address older student groups is critical because according to the the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of students aged 25 or older and enrolled in college now make up more than one-third of college students.
College campuses no longer cater exclusively to "traditional" students, and administrators are increasingly seeing the importance of addressing students from a variety of different backgrounds and at various stages of their post-secondary lives. But in addition to understanding diversity on campus, administrators are realizing that adult learners are enrolling at higher rates as undergraduates. This reality and data showing that adult learner populations will increase tremendously over the next nine years means that higher education institutions are going to have to better address the unique needs of older students who are often dealing with full-time jobs, familial obligations, and other commitments.
Western Governors University was highlighted as a good example of a university that's built for adult learning, as it focuses on program outcomes and industry development needs, and CAEL recommends working to incorporate greater flexibility into the curriculum. The group mentions strategies like accelerated degree programs, online classes, and technological adoption to open up study options.