Adult Student Services

For decades, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) has researched what it takes for colleges and universities to succeed in educating adult students. The resulting deep understanding informs a range of adult student services including principles, assessment tools, partnerships, training and certification, and student advising—all of which are available to help you improve your offerings.

CAEL’s work serves as a bridge for colleges and universities to understand the unique needs of adult learners, whereby students can become more aware of the opportunities for receiving college credits from their life and work experiences.

Most jobs of the future will require workers to possess college degrees, and right now, there are many adults who have college-level knowledge from life and work experiences. These prospective adult students are the key to propelling the nation’s economy forward, and can benefit from earning college credits for learning that they already know.

Colleges and universities have a great opportunity to be of service to adult learners, and CAEL can work with your institution to establish the necessary resources and services for your adult student population.

Ways to Improve Adult Student Services

Benchmark Your Adult Student Services

Use our Adult Learning Focused Institution (ALFI) Toolkits to survey your adult students and assess your institution—discovering and prioritizing specific strategies to serve your adult students better. Based on CAEL’s in-depth research on how to serve adult learners effectively, the survey tools, along with our principles for effectiveness, help you benchmark your results against other institutions and discover how best to allocate your resources for the greatest impact. The results can also serve as a baseline before launching new programs for adult students, enabling you to establish consistent measurements for the impact of your adult programs.

Advise Your Adult Students for Success
Because adults learn differently and face different challenges than younger students, the right student advising is critical to their staying in school and graduating. CAEL helps train and certify your advisors to work more effectively with adult students. Or, we can provide advising directly to your students through a nationwide network of advisors.


Earning College Credit for Prior Learning

Read about CAEL’s online service,, to help people earn college credit for what they already know.

The site offers a prior learning credit predictor to help students determine how much college credit they could earn.

Students can also talk to a Credit Specialist, take a course in portfolio assessment, and assemble their portfolio - all online.

Focus on Needs of Adult Learners

Read about CAEL’s report on adult learning in the U.S., including a two-page profile of adult learners in each state.

From a Small Town to a Career Dream Realized

Danielle lived in a small town and was unsure if achieving her dream of becoming a registered nurse was possible, but through a latticed career development program, she was able to accomplish her goal.