College Planning & Management

MAR 2013

College Planning & Management is the information resource for professionals serving the college and university market. Covering facilities, security, technology and business.

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF WISCONSIN LUTHERAN COLLEGE, PHOTOGRAPHER: ERNIE MASTROIANNI; TOP RIGHT PHOTO COURTESY OF AQUINAS COLLEGE, GRAND RAPIDS, MI COMING AROUND AGAIN A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION. An issue brief based on a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics reports that adult learners participate in formal, work-related courses to maintain or improve skills and knowledge they already had (92 percent), to learn new skills or knowledge (77 percent), to acquire skills and knowledge to help change jobs or career fields (19 percent), or to get or keep a certificate or license (33 percent). Recognizing the Issues Four-year institutions also realize the potential of older students. Nyack College in Nyack, NY, has started the Division of Adult Education to cater to the mature, working student with great success. Over the past two years the retention rates for the School of Adult and Distance Education at Nyack College between semesters range between 80 and 100 percent. The average retention rate between semesters is 92 percent (175 students). These victories are hard-won, however. Non-traditional students feel a bit like fish out of water. "They have lots of questions, 'How am I going to make time in my schedule for school?' or 'How will this advance my career?'" says Julie Hood, academic chair for the organizational management program, Nyack College. "Successful adult programs have to recognize the issues and treat these learners differently." Initially adult learners need help navigating the experience. Most likely it's been a while since they've sat behind a school desk, and there probably will be jitters. "They have anxieties about new technologies, about fitting in with their classmates, about where to find their high school transcript," says Mary Sue Vickers, director of the Plus 50 Initiative at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Schools are addressing these needs with specialized counseling and credits for life experiences. Nyack College offers a multistep approach for ensuring success. "Each student has one advisor that they work with throughout their experience," explains Hood. "Then students are grouped in a 12- to 18-person cohort that they work and study with. That group becomes a strong influence on the individuals, building loyalty and accountability." Hood also points to online options and lots of professor accessibility. "We launched a completely online offering last year and that first cohort graduates in May," she reports. "To avoid the feeling of isolation that can come with online classes, we have one night a week where we are all online together with a live session." 22 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / MARCH 2013 What Adult Students Bring to the Table Educators will fi nd adults to be, "the students of your dreams," according to Tracy Reily-Kelly, program manager, Corporate and Continuing Education Department, Clark College, Vancouver, WA. "They offer deep, critical thinking while bringing maturity and excitement to the classroom. And when there's a snow day they want to know when they can make it up, not where to go skiing." Nurturing and fostering that excitement requires a change in teaching technique. Sergio Marini, Ph.D., associate professor, Social, Behavioral Sciences & Human Services, Cape Cod Community College, suggests turning from sage-on-the-stage pedagogy to andragogy, or the art and science of helping adults learn. In a recent presentation he points to the five principals of andragogy: 1. Letting learners know why something is important to them; 2. showing learners how to direct themselves through information; 3. relating the topic to the learners' experiences; 4. accepting that people will not learn until they are ready and motivated to learn; and 5. helping students overcome inhibitions, behaviors, and beliefs about learning. What Are They Choosing to Study? What kind of classes are adult learners drawn to? "We see two groups of people. The first want to upgrade their skills so they can compete in the new workforce," says Reily-Kelly. "Maybe they had a job in forestry or a factory that went away and now they need technological skills." Reily-Kelly suggests a kind and patient computer teacher in a lab with magnified screens to help this group learn résumé-building skills. The second group wants credentials in a completely different field. "Perhaps they are newly retired and ready for a second career," she says. Reily-Kelly reports that this highly motivated WWW.PLANNING 4EDUCATION.COM

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