Adult Education a 'Win-Win' for Business, Schools

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 20, 2015 | Go to article overview

Adult Education a 'Win-Win' for Business, Schools


As the nation's workforce gets older and companies increasingly look within for employees prepared to meet the demands of a rapidly-evolving business environment, there is a mushrooming effort by colleges and universities to provide meaningful adult education.

Benedictine University in Lisle has been one of the major players in providing adult education in the Chicago area, particularly the western suburbs, and recently made a commitment to expand its adult offerings in the central Illinois and southwest Arizona regions.

Michelle Koppitz, vice president for adult and professional programs at Benedictine's National Moser Center for Adult Learning and one of the panelists of the Business Ledger's Newsmakers' Forum focusing on "The Future of Executive Education," said executive education is a win-win for businesses and the university.

"Executive-centered business programs deliver skills and knowledge that can have both an immediate and lasting impact on how executives view their leadership roles and the business opportunities that lie ahead," she said.

"Executives also provide an expanding market for universities, who are competing for smaller and smaller numbers of traditional undergraduate students," Koppitz added.

"Today, nearly 40 percent of college students are 25 years of age or older."

Benedictine offers a variety of programs for executive-level professionals, including a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior, and doctoral programs in Organization Development and Values-Driven Leadership.

A key characteristic that distinguishes working professionals from other college students is the likelihood that they are juggling other life roles while attending school.

In addition to leadership roles at work, they are spouses, parents, caregivers and community members. They are active in their churches, their children's schools and in civic organizations.

Providing today's adult learner with options, or what Koppitz called "Lifestyle Driven Modalities," distinguishes executive education from traditional undergraduate programs.

"Adults, particularly executive-level learners, can't spend an inordinate amount of time in the classroom," she said. "You must be able to provide the adult learner with options such as online courses, blended/hybrid courses, or courses offered in other distance education formats.

"The face-to-face relationship between teacher and learner and between learner and learner is still important, but the classroom cannot be the only contact point. …

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