It’s a whole different process when looking at the adult learner and what they bring verses the traditional high school student entering college."
CULTIVATE EXCELLENCE recently interviewed 30-year higher education expert, Eddie Pawlawski, Director of Engagement and Outreach with the College Board, to break-down a few myths and give advice for college bound high schoolers and adult learners returning to the classroom.
College Bound Senior vs. Adult Learner— Understanding It Isn’t The Same
It’s a whole different process when looking at the adult learner and what they bring verses the traditional high school student entering college. Eddie continues “Many times, the assumption for high school students is that they come into the college setting not necessarily knowing what they want to do, what they love to do or what their niche is.”
Adult Learner: Same Goal, Different Package
Adult learners have a very different set of expectations. They are looking for very specific training that might be related to their years in the workforce or in industry. Eddie describes, “The questions they are asking are somewhat different in that they may be heavily weighted toward a particular profession, and they typically bring an array of credentials that include previous training and previous college credit. The package they present may be vastly different than the traditional admissions package of grades, test scores, and recommendations.
‘What can you [X College] do for me? How quickly? And can I afford it?’ They may even be an advanced learner who has worked over 20 years. And that’s not the only thing they are seeking.“ Adult learners crave the opportunity to complete things quickly and have contact, collaboration and conversation with faculty to receive assistance as quickly as they can.”
Adult learners will often select whichever institution provides what they need. And if that institution can deliver it quickly, they are loyal. If not, the adult learner will go somewhere else."
As such, many institutions offer flexible, adult-friendly degree programs and have adopted customer-centric admissions processes where they evaluate transcripts and previous experiential learning, encouraging many adult learners to realize that a return to the classroom is possible.
“It is not always about the name brand of the institution. "Adult learners will often select whichever institution provides what they need. And if that institution can deliver it quickly, they are loyal. If not, the adult learner will go somewhere else."
Feel Good By The Degree
Most adults don’t have time. They know what they need, they just might not have all the time in the world to do a proper search of every institution out there. Eddie recommends that searching for the right institution for both college bound high school seniors and adult learners is every bit of a negotiation as one would think. “The best way to really dive into the process is to become hands-on:
There are some places that are going to be fits for individuals and some places that will not. Here are some key indicators to reinforce that a program is truly meant for you:
On the other hand, if the institution is methodical about the process, and walks you through in a logical process, shows that it is a collaborative decision, with a smile, Eddie assures, “then perhaps you found your home.”
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