Magazine article The Catalyst

A Message from Pamela Tate

Magazine article The Catalyst

A Message from Pamela Tate

Article excerpt

Until recently, a 30 year old working mother was not what most people thought of when picturing a "college student." A college student was an 18-year-old, straight from high school, who was able to study full time without significant family or work responsibilities.

Today, that traditional view of the college student is still valid, but for an evershrinking proportion of all students currently enrolled in postsecondary education.

More and more common in the college classroom are working adults, people who postponed college to start a family, or people recently discharged from their service in the military. More and more common are working adults taking college courses online. Adult learners are seeking the skills and credentials they need to become more employable, to transition to new industries, or to advance along their chosen career pathways.

Helping adults access the education they need to succeed at every stage of their work lives has never been more important. It is, in fact, critical to our nation's economy as well as to individual self-sufficiency and overall well-being.

For 37 years, the work of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) has focused on helping colleges and universities serve these nontraditional learners. Many colleges and universities have shown great leadership by changing their institutional culture to embrace adult students. They have expanded their capacity to offer innovations like prior learning assessment in order to give adults - and all nontraditional learners - an opportunity to earn college credit for what they know.

This issue of the Catalyst shares articles describing the kinds of strategies that CAEL has been advancing in partnership with colleges and universities for the past decades.

For example, three of the articles in this issue - National Adult Learners SatisfactionPriorities Report, Helping Adult Learners Succeed: Tools for Two-Year Colleges, and Strategies for Becoming Adult-LearningFocused institutions - touch on our broader work with colleges and universities called the Adult Learning Focused Institutions (ALFI) initiative, an initiative that identifies and promotes nine principles of effectiveness in serving adult learners. Colleges use these ALFI benchmarks to understand where to invest resources or expand services in order to improve the access to and success in postsecondary programs for adult learners. …

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