Bachelor's degree completion programs: Factors influencing success for adult students
Seven million adult students twenty five years and older are enrolled in higher education, and the number is growing every year. At the same time, employers are increasingly investing in education as it becomes evident that a more educated workforce contributes to improved productivity. This study was designed to gain greater understanding of the learning needs of adult students who are employed and to increase understanding of the role that institutions of higher education play in serving adult students.
This case study indicated that working adults who choose to participate, persist, and complete a bachelor's degree completion program are more likely to possess the ability and desire for success to help them overcome barriers or obstacles. In addition, they are more apt to focus on the benefits of participation and completion. Adult students are challenged by their own perceived lack of time. The ability to balance home life, work responsibilities, and school may present an obstacle, but an ability to see a clear path to the end goal of graduation can effect persistence. In this study, students were strongly supported by their families and significant others. Employer and supervisor support was deemed very important. Possession of strong intrinsic and extrinsic motivating drives was important, as were strong time management skills.
Institutions of higher education that develop meaningful professional partnerships to facilitate the educational needs of the workforce strengthen their ability to compete in the marketplace. Relevant partnerships with the community and employers increases access to the resources of the university, while simultaneously embedding the university in the community. Institutions of higher education may improve their ability to successfully deliver programs to adults when they value lifelong learning and provide vision and strategies to ensure the existence of adequate infrastructure and the capacity to serve working adults. This includes providing programs that are structured for convenience and flexibility and that are well-planned; providing excellent instruction, and offering high-level student services.
The significance of this research is in its contribution to the field of knowledge about adult learners and in its ability to inform design imperatives for programs that serve adults.
0516: Continuing education
0745: Higher education