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How can colleges and universities reach and engage adult learners, who are quickly becoming a larger part of their student populations? The answer is: much differently than they did traditional students.
To date, 45 states have set college attainment goals, and adult students are key to reaching those goals. So understanding the needs of adults and how they differ from students right out of high school is essential.
Today, we have some fresh insights. A newly released Mathematica study draws on data from its four-year evaluation of the Adult Promise programs. These programs, supported by Lumina Foundation and underway in 15 states, offer enhanced financial and other supports for adult students who want to keep learning and increasing their earning power.
The study describes how states and institutions are reaching, engaging, and enrolling adults through unique approaches that include targeted marketing, outreach, and enrollment strategies. Three strategies are especially effective: (1) tailored messages, (2) tech-based tools, and (3) high-touch helpers. Here are a few key takeaways from the study regarding each strategy:
These new approaches are gaining traction with adult students – but there’s still far to go. We are working to ensure that, by 2025, 60 percent of Americans hold a quality credential beyond high school. Today, that number is just shy of 52 percent. By building on these valuable insights, we can help many more adults learn, earn, and thrive.
Wendy Sedlak, Ph.D., is the strategy director for research and evaluation at Lumina Foundation, a private, independent foundation committed to racial equity and to helping everyone learn beyond high school. Sedlak advises Lumina’s strategic direction, guides effective practices, and measures the foundation’s progress. Learn more about Mathematica’s ongoing evaluation of the Adult Promise programs.Back to News