Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Adult Learners

Adult students
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Adult learners are typically defined as those of “working age,” or between 25-64 when attending college. These students typically deal with challenges while trying to complete postsecondary education such as work commitments, family obligations, financial challenges, and many others. Many traditional age students may also face these challenges, leading some scholars/practitioners to use the term “post-traditional” learner instead.

Adult learners are critical to reaching Kentucky’s 60x30 education attainment goal

CPE and Kentucky’s institutions are focused on serving adult learners better, as shown in the new statewide Strategic Agenda that runs from 2022-2030 which seeks to “Work with education providers to limit barriers to enrollment and completion for adult learners and other students balancing the competing demands of work, life, family, and school”.  

Strategic Plan to Serve Adult Learners

CPE staff and statewide stakeholders and specialists in serving adult learners have been convening over the past year to draft a strategic plan of action for improving service to adult learners. This strategic plan will in three key areas: Accessibility, Institutional Change (both program and operational change), and Partnerships, and is scheduled for release in the Fall of 2022. Our current and planned future work builds on lessons learned from CPE’s 2009 Kentucky Adult Learner Initiative, Project Graduate, Degrees When Due and the 2020 Adult Learner Convening.

Accessibility: This section of the strategic plan seeks to address fundamental issues that impact an adult’s ability to participate in postsecondary education that are not institution specific. This includes accessing relevant, accurate information about institutions of higher education and their policies, as well as increasing the affordability of higher education for adults.

Institutional Change: This section of the strategic plan focuses on actions undertaken at the state level that encourage individual campuses to increase the flexibility of their academic programs and student support services to meet the needs of adult learners.

Partnerships: This section of the strategic plan focuses on increasing collaboration between institutions of higher education, employers, and other state agencies to better support the flexible transition into and out of higher education and the workforce for adult learners.

Last Updated: 7/29/2022