Meeting the Special Needs of Adult Students

By Deborah Kilgore; Penny J. Rice | Go to book overview

With an eye to the other contributions in this volume,
the authors provide some recommendations for
research and practice.


11
New Directions for Inquiry and
Practice

Deborah Kilgore

Penny J. Rice

If this is your first time focusing on the adult students in your institution, you may feel like a nontraditional student yourself, returning to a school you do not recognize, where you feel out of place and unqualified to succeed. You are not alone. Congratulations for picking up this volume and for considering some first steps in serving the needs of a large number of students about whom many of us have only just begun to think.

Adults represent a huge percentage of undergraduate and graduate students in colleges and universities. As Carol Kasworm pointed out in Chapter One, both internal and external factors motivate adults to enroll in college, and their motivations may change as they persist in college. Kasworm introduced us to the fact that adult participation is shaped differently from that of traditional-aged students, primarily because of adult commitments to work, community, and family life that compete and complement the learning process. In Chapter Two, Ellen E. Fairchild elaborated on these multiple adult roles and their effects on adult students' participation in higher education. Both of these authors remind us that although adult students are nothing like their younger counterparts, they also are unique from one another. Rather than developing a new ideal adult student around which to design student services, we should build flexibility into the processes by which we serve students.

Janice Hadfield in Chapter Three took a customer service approach to recruiting and retaining adult students. Although we do not agree that adults do and should think of themselves as “customers” in our institutions, as if they were passively consuming a packaged product, we agree with the spirit of Hadfield's ideas, particularly her important argument that colleges

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