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Attracting Adult Learners With Credit for Prior Learning

Prospective Adult Learners Say that Opportunities to Earn CPL Can Drive Their Enrollment Choices, Yet Differences by Income Suggest the Need for Greater Clarity in Messaging for Lower Income Populations

A CAEL/Strada Research Brief

By Rebecca Klein-Collins, CAEL, and Charles Framularo, Strada Education Network

Previous research from CAEL and WICHE has shown that when adult students receive credit for their prior learning (CPL), they are more likely to complete credentials while saving time and money doing so. Because of the strong evidence of the benefits from CPL for students, many institutions already use CPL in their efforts to recruit adult learners. 

New survey research from CAEL, Strada, and Hanover Research indicates that “likely” adult enrollees are receptive to such recruiting messages. A new report explains why:

  • The concept of CPL is familiar and clear. A majority of likely enrollees say they are familiar with the concept of CPL (60%) and find the concept straightforward or clear (79%). Familiarity with and clarity on the concept increase with household income.
  • Most have already applied or plan to apply for CPL. Roughly half of likely enrollees (47%) say they have applied for credit for past life/work experiences, while another approximate half (48%) say they intend to apply in the future; only 5% say they do not intend to apply. Those with higher incomes are more likely to have applied for CPL credit in the past.
  • CPL may influence choice of college. The vast majority (84%) of the likely enrollees said that the ability to receive college credit for their life/work experiences would have a strong influence on their college/university choice. Among those who were slightly or moderately likely to enroll, just over half (55%) said that knowing that colleges and universities offer CPL would have an effect on their likelihood to enroll. 

These findings suggest that messaging about CPL in adult student recruitment could provide a competitive advantage over other postsecondary institutions , while also helping to nudge less likely enrollees to take another look. 

Download Research

Attracting Adult Learners With Credit for Prior Learning

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