- The Chronicle of Higher Education has produced a new report profiling the growth of adult learners as a critical part of the American college student profile. According to the executive summary, about 80 million people between the ages of 25 through 65 have earned high school diplomas but have not earned a college degree. About 15 million adult learners have earned at least an associate's degree.
- When compared to traditional college student profiles, a majority of adult learners are African-American women who attend college part time and receive Pell Grant funding support.
- The report highlights several areas of emphasis for institutions to help adult learners persist and complete degrees. Child care and supporting financial aid programs, the report authors say, is a critical element of helping students to become stable in degree pursuit.
According to the Chronicle's study, less than half of the community colleges nationwide have campus-based child care facilities, with Rhode Island, New York and California leading as outliers operating against the trend. But the question is how states and campuses can find the funding to support the programs which help students to persist to graduation.
Cultivating alumni and corporate partners in philanthropy typically requires relationship building and encouraging donors to follow their individual visions of support and for presidents or fundraising officials to make existing programming fit within that vision. But higher education executives may want to consider looking at their student profiles, and cultivating philanthropy around the trends of student success and completion, while emphasizing that the orbit of financial need is far beyond being able to pay tuition and to buy books.
Students face issues with food and housing access, transportation costs, and needs for counseling and mentoring in adapting to the college experience. By cultivating anecdotal and statistical data about these issues, leaders may be positioned to make a compelling case to donors to change their vision of support to meet the distinct needs of students.