“Higher education is currently forcing many adult learners to jump through hoops to complete their degrees. Although many of these nontraditional students can be successful, colleges and universities should still meet adult learners where they are, as higher ed faces dwindling enrollment and a workforce that is relying less on employees with four-year degrees.
Higher ed institutions can start the process of change themselves, but much of the work still requires support from Congress. To help understand how the gap between both entities can be bridged, Dr. Drumm McNaughton spoke with Julie Peller, who uses her past experience at the House of Representatives and Department of Education to serve as executive director of Higher Learning Advocates (HLA), which supports and advances policy changes to increase postsecondary access and success.
‘As we go into the new Congress, in the new year, we are really focusing on this Widen The Path campaign. How can we bring partners together? How can we lift up voices of both learners, institutions, and community members who are doing this and bring that story to Washington so that we can make change?’ ~ Julie Peller
- Identify who’s still on and off campus and why. Those who are no longer on campus most likely left for financial reasons, for example.
- Think about creating programs like the ones that President Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart of Amarillo College did to support students in the classroom and those who have dropped out. Many of these programs are only possible through policy changes, but in the meantime, higher ed can still create a more welcoming environment and ensure certain services are available.
- Forge connections and partnerships with preexisting community services. This involves sharing the data of low-income and eligible students to connect them with the right supportive services.
- Think about employees from employer partners as potential students. Institutions are encouraged to adopt credentials or certificates that facilitate lifelong learning for students who take breaks in their education. Not everyone wants an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree.”