How to increase visibility of non-traditional adult learners in higher education

  • Adult Education


    First of all, I am very excited about the new direction Chancellor Fingerhut and Governor Strickland are taking towards making higher education more affordable. As an adult educator, I am interested in what type of new incentive metrics OBOR (Ohio Board of Regents) is going to use to determine funding streams for universities. In my opinion, the focus for many institutions is too heavily directed towards traditional freshman enrollment and retention. Specific university resources and services tailored towards the unique needs of adult learners have been marginal at best. My question is how can the OBOR metrics for how universities are funded in Ohio be changed to recognize the enrollment and retention of non-traditional adult learners? I am interested in making sure that everyone who is interersted in pursuing higher education can not only afford it, but also have the resources and assistance to stay enrolled. Any thoughts would be appreciated.


    Sun,04/29/2007 11:58 – AR Sultan
    DiBiase, great comments. And, non-traditional adult learners have given up on educational institutions, politics, and the hope of obtaining visibility with dignity. They are stuck in low paying, dead-in-jobs, or at home waiting for the bingo halls to open. Why, again, because those who say they want an increase in visibility of non-traditional adult learners in higher education appear to be doing nothing concrete to show this is possible, while allowing adults to retain their dignity. They can’t afford the classes. They don’t know how to go about paying for higher education. Additional debt is not an option. The grant programs have been max-ed out. They are looking for respect for years of life experiences. They want expertise to be recognized, and not down graded. Some educators who had non-traditional adult learners have poised over these students with an attitute of superioriy. This type of charged attmosphere is non-sense to the adult learner. And, navigating around the campus is a major headache and nightmare. What ongoing nonsense of operations and bad attitudes. The adult learner wants more advanced and technical education. They do not want educational advances at the detriment of human dignity. Once financial and social kindness become a partner to higher education, then we’ll see an increase in the visibility of non-traditonal adult learners. The traditional students will also appreciate the change.

    AR Sultan, as a non-traditional adult student, you do not speak for me so I would appreciate it if your future comments included words like “many” or “some” when referring to non-traditional adult students.

    I would have to agree that I would appreciate recognition for my experience and achievements, but I would ask this of employers who demand a 4-year degree prior to employment. I attend classes with much younger freshman and have witnessed how they are securing that ever precious piece of paper that employers are demanding. I fail to see the relevance in the hiring process.

    Your vision of the typical non-traditional adult student couldn’t be further from the truth and unbelievably arrogant, opinionated, condescending and offensive.

    While financing an education can be a barrier for adult students or potential adult students, the barriers many of my fellow adult students face are the lack of courses offered during times when we, full-time employees, mothers and fathers, are available to take them. Most classes are offered during the day, some are offered in the evenings, few are offered on the weekends.

    For those adults who have not made the commitment to enroll in a form of higher education, or even continuing education programs, have quite possibly avoided this step due to low self-esteem or the lack of hope for their future. They KNOW it will take several years longer than 4 years to secure a 4-year degree. At the age of 40 or 50 years old, if it will take 10 years or longer to obtain that degree with a limited amount of wage-earning time left after that, why bother to spend all that time and money that probably won’t be recovered?

    It seems to me that these people who are “sitting around for the Bingo Halls to open” need to have a little hope and confidence. Hope that there is a brighter future around the corner and the confidence that they DO have the ability to learn. If they are unable to muster up that hope and confidence on their own, then perhaps we need to steer them.

    Poverty breeds poverty. Likewise, it seems that most uneducated adults are the offspring of uneducated parents. These uneducated adults are setting a standard for their children simply by example. I think that the key to ensuring our children are better educated is to provide an education to their parents first. That is not going to happen with insults and condescension which maintains a low self-esteem.

    Lastly, I have found nothing about college that has minimized my dignity. On the contrary, it has boosted my confidence. Your post, however, has been less than dignified. If you are looking for a concrete example, of how an adult student can “make this happen”, you need to look no further. It certainly would be helpful and encouraging, however, if the public colleges and universities had the support from the Ohio Board of Regents to implement accelerated programs for the adult learner. At the very least, provide courses at a time when the adult student can actually attend them.

    I’m in the process of completing my graduating requirements at a small business college. I am retraining for a second career as I could not find work in the old one in Northeast Ohio. I have spent all my assets and become heavily in debt to make this necessary move. I notice just how much money is being spent on getting high tech workers into the area. I see a number of problems that need to be addressed. First, the schools can’t produce the worker with the skills that are requested. They don’t have the time to cover the broad/specific knowledge a tech worker needs. Then, industry is asking for workers who have the skills plus several years experience. So even if you get the precious degree, you are not qualified for the job because you lack the experience. I think industries should impress upon the schools the kind of workers they are looking for and then help develop programs to produce and integrate new people into the business. Internships and on-the-job training is necessary to close the gap. I remember when Computer Aided Design came to Cleveland, colleges geared up to teach it and many companies had in-house training. They developed user groups to share problem resolution and expertise. Many of us learned on the job the skills they couldn’t cover in school.
    Current trends do not favor retrained workers or younger grads. The emphasis on entrepreneurship, leadership and the like often bypasses most of us. Industry/businesses give the impression they want the ready-made stars so they can be competitive today while they plan to prepare the future generations.
    Meanwhile, here I am, retrained, graduating but lacking experience, therefore invisible.

    # Submitted by catalonia on Tue, 07/31/2007 – 14:21.

    Universities are funded based upon a complicated formula that I have never fully understood. I am not implying that I have some simpler superior funding model in mind. Adult education is far down on the priorty list of most universities. Student credit hours is the name of the game for many schools and recruiting a student for a four year program will produce more money both in tuition and state subsidy. It will also provide a student who will need to take many standard general education courses that support faculty positions.