Adult student need more than just classes

Adult college students need a range of services to help them succeed, Maureen Conway reminds us in the commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Help Community Colleges Help Adult Students
The economy is showing signs of life, but unemployment remains high, with millions of Americans out of work or underemployed. Many people have turned to community-college vocational programs to strengthen their skills and better prepare themselves to return to the work force. But while this pays off for many, too many others receive little return on their additional education and training.

That's because, too often, these programs fail to provide the extra help that today's students need to complete a program and land a job.

A new Aspen Institute analysis details the importance of providing such support, including helping adult students cope with child-care and transportation issues or simply paying for books and materials. Such challenges can derail students and prevent them from obtaining a degree or training credential.

Making it through a community-college program is only part of the challenge. Unfortunately, some programs don't train people for job openings that actually exist in the local community. This can be an exercise in futility for students—and can leave the needs of local employers unmet.

Even when there are job openings, many students lack the connections that can be vital to understanding an industry, learning about the openings, or getting in the door to interview. This can be especially challenging for out-of-work students who are going through training to start fresh in a new industry.

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