Adult Students

When Adults Go Back to School
Unlike in the past, few people today move directly from high school to college. Tuition may be too expensive, and work the only option for graduating high schools students. But if they want to return to school later, how will the experience be? We work with colleges and higher education systems to improve the adult student experience.

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) helps working adults return to school by giving them more access to:

  • Adult-friendly Colleges
  • Recognition for Life and Work Experience
  • New Ways to Pay for Education

SUCCESS STORIES ABOUT ADULT STUDENTS

Read stories below about programs CAEL has designed and implemented for adult students including:

An online service where adult students can earn college credit for what they already know
Advising services to help Chicagoans complete their degrees
A survey tool to help colleges provide better services to adult students

Earning College Credit for Prior Learning

CHALLENGE:
Most Americans do not go from high school to college and leave four years later with a degree. Life gets in the way. Some start college but never finish; others can never afford the time or money to even start. Still others simply weren't ready, or went into the military, or didn't know what to do. Years later, these people have a tremendous amount of life experience, but no degree to prove what they know to potential employers. These learners need to complete their degrees to be successful.

RESPONSE:
CAEL built LearningCounts.org, which provides:

Advice from a College Credit Specialist
Students talk about their background and interests, and together, determine the fastest and most affordable path to finish their degree.

Enroll in a Course
Our online portfolio courses help students learn how to demonstrate the college-level learning they acquired through work, volunteering or military service. We offer instructor-led and do-it-yourself courses.

Portfolio Development and Assessment
Using what they have learned in our courses, they create an online knowledge portfolio that matches their knowledge and experience to college-equivalent courses. Once they have completed their online portfolio, a member of our expert faculty assesses the portfolio and recommends it for college credit. Students can earn up to 12 undergraduate credit hours for each portfolio they submit.

Predict Potential to Earn College Credit
Students can also use the prior learning credit predictor for free to estimate how many college credits they may be able to earn.

Transfer Credit Recommendations
CAEL is now partnering with universities to directly award college credit based on its LearningCounts assessments of knowledge learned outside the classroom.

Alamo Colleges, Bellevue University, the Indiana Institute of Technology, the New England College of Business, North Iowa Area Community College, Roosevelt University and Southern New Hampshire University have already signed on to the new process, which will streamline the credit acceptance and reduce transcription costs for students.

COLLABORATORS:
An advisory group of Prior Learning Assessment theorists and practitioners from a wide variety of institutions helped launch LearningCounts.org. LearningCounts Partner colleges have made it a reality for their students and other learners.

“No one in the world of Prior Learning Assessment is more respected than CAEL and SNHU is happy to accept CAEL’s credit recommendations directly. They are the experts. They have unassailable integrity and an unmatched track record of almost 40 years in this area. They invented PLA.” - Paul LeBlanc, President, Southern New Hampshire University
 

Jill's story about earning college credit for what she already knew

Jill Powell talks about LearningCounts.org

Collaborators

  • Houston Endowment
    Houston Endowment

    Houston Endowment supports nonprofit organizations and educational institutions that produce and maximize enduring benefits for the people of the greater Houston area.

  • Lumina Foundation
    Lumina Foundation

    Lumina Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in Indianapolis in August 2000. Lumina is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college. In fact, we are the nation’s largest foundation dedicated exclusively to increasing students’ access to and success in postsecondary education. Our misison is defined by Goal 2025–to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

  • The Kresge Foundation
    The Kresge Foundation

    The Kresge Foundation is a $3.1 billion private, national foundation headquartered in Metropolitan Detroit, in the suburb community of Troy.

  • The Brown Foundation, Inc.
    The Brown Foundation, Inc.

    The Brown Foundation, Inc. was founded in July 1951 by Herman and Margarett Root Brown and George R. and Alice Pratt Brown.

  • State Street Foundation
    State Street Foundation

    Established in 1977, the State Street Foundation is the charitable grantmaking arm of State Street Corporation.

  • The Joyce Foundation
    The Joyce Foundation

    The Joyce Foundation supports the development of policies that both improve the quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region and serve as models for the rest of the country.

  • LearningCounts.org
    LearningCounts.org

    CAEL's innovative higher education platform that rigorously assesses college-level learning acquired from outside the traditional classroom for potential college credit.

  • USA Funds
    USA Funds

    USA Funds® is a nonprofit corporation that works to enhance postsecondary education preparedness, access and success by providing and supporting financial and other valued services.

  • Walmart Foundation
    Walmart Foundation

    The Walmart Foundation meets the needs of the underserved by directing charitable giving our core areas of focus: Hunger Relief & Healthy Eating, Sustainability, Women's Economic Empowerment and Career Opportunity.

Complete the Degree

CHALLENGE: The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reports that the U.S. will need 22 million new college degrees by 2018 — but will fall short of that number by at least 3 million postsecondary degrees, associates or better. The U.S. will also need at least 4.7 million new workers with postsecondary certificates.

RESPONSE: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced and endorsed Complete the Degree; a free service, led by local non-profits with a commitment to educational success. With a broad network of partners and participating universities to provide additional support, direction and resources; Complete the Degree ensures a collaborative and thorough strategy in helping adults return to college.

For those who have previously attended college and earned some college credits, Complete the Degree services are free and include the following:

One-on-one planning and personalized guidance

Support in getting credit for previous education and life experience

Guidance with scholarship, grant and loan applications

Assistance with the college application process and re-enrollment

Advice and support accessing financial aid resources

Guidance with the student loan rehabilitation process and default issues

Academic support and skill development

Information about Chicago-area colleges and universities and select programs

Mayor Emanuel Announces Complete the Degree



Collaborators

  • Complete the Degree
    Complete the Degree

    There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” roadmap to college completion. Complete the Degree advisors will work with you one-on-one, providing a customized plan and consistent support as you take on the challenges of managing adult responsibilities while completing college courses. Whether you have just a handful of college credits or you are only a few classes away from graduating, Complete the Degree will help you get back on track to complete your degree.

Better Service to Adults in College

Challenge:

Colleges and universities had no means of measuring their institutional effectiveness in serving adult learners. This often causes adult learners’ needs to be overlooked.

Response:

A survey that measures perceptions of adult learners and institutional administrators, faculty, and staff; provides internal and external comparisons, and suggests strategic planning priorities.

Collaborators

  • Lumina Foundation
    Lumina Foundation

    Lumina Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in Indianapolis in August 2000. Lumina is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college. In fact, we are the nation’s largest foundation dedicated exclusively to increasing students’ access to and success in postsecondary education. Our misison is defined by Goal 2025–to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

  • Pew Charitable Trusts
    Pew Charitable Trusts
    The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.
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