Alternative Pathways for Adult Learners

Remove obstacles facing adults who need more postsecondary credentials to succeed in the economy, workers who want to transition to new careers, and veterans by opening and expanding alternative pathways to degrees and certificates, and by developing innovative programming design and delivery.

What We Know

Changes in the world economy have put a premium on an educated workforce, which explains why more than half of today's postsecondary students nationally attend school part time, and almost 40 percent work full time. More and more adults are looking for ways to upgrade and expand their skills in an effort to improve or protect their economic position. Yet adults face significant obstacles to coming back, staying in school, and then earning their postsecondary credentials. Too often, they find themselves blocked by the traditional structure and organization of higher education. In addition, given their years away from the classroom, they often need help through innovative academic programming, increased and creative financial aid opportunities, and support services that may include remediation.

Strategic Actions

  • Raise community awareness of the availability of Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credit for veterans and adult workers at all area postsecondary campuses, and work with state policymakers to develop and implement a consistent PLA policy that creates veteran- and worker-friendly environments on all postsecondary campuses by leveraging the state's current articulation and transfer process, e.g., consistent transfer policies for PLA credits, consistent fee setting, etc.
  • Develop more flexible and accelerated program schedules and designs that make postsecondary education more accessible, and make greater use of adult-friendly instructional approaches.
  • Develop a regional "back to school" initiative through which all area adult career-technical centers, colleges, and universities work collaboratively to bring back those adult workers who have previously completed one or more college-level courses to complete a degree or certificate.
  • Give adult learners better access to Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) services for preparation to acquire the skills required to achieve a score on the GED equivalent to college readiness, and focus college remedial efforts on the transition between the GED and successful placement in the first college-level course.
  • Partner with employers to ensure that the incumbent workforce is globally competitive.

These are the principles that will lead to the 60 percent goal. District-level and institutional practices will vary based on the local educational environment and unique needs of students, although proven and promising practices will be shared and collaborative action will be taken, where appropriate. All Compact members are committed to leveraging the strengths of their institutions to focus on completion with connection—and to aligning their policies and practices with regional workforce and economic development priorities. This collective regional strategy will propel Central Ohio into national prominence for postsecondary completion.