The Importance of Adult Learners

The Importance of Adult Learners


Adult learners are considered to be very important to the strength and capability of the American workforce. In March 2007, the Lumina Foundation for Education released "Returning to Learning: Adults' Success in College is Key to America's Future," a report that examines the significance of adult learners and what measures can be taken in the United States to offer adults better educational opportunities. The report asserts that adult learning benefits individuals, families, communities and the nation.

According to the google report, 54 million adults in the U.S. labor force do not have college degrees. During a time when the country is falling behind other countries in educational achievement, the United States is in need of a dramatic change in its commitment to education for all ages. The report holds that postsecondary education encourages positive social change and economic prosperity.

The report suggests that adult learners need to be seen as diverse and complex by colleges, universities and other educational institutions. Adult learners are at a much different point in their lives than the traditional, 20-something students. Adult learners are likely to have families, jobs and other important responsibilities.

Because of these differences between traditional and nontraditional students, postsecondary institutions need to make learning convenient and affordable to busy adults. Programs should be made available to adult students during hours in which they are not working or caring for their families. The report also suggests that programs cater to the limited financial resources with which some adult learners have to work.

The Lumina Foundation's report

The Lumina Foundation's report points out that more and more adults who return to school are choosing distance learning and entrepreneurial programs. Distance learning allows adults to learn online at their own pace, and in the privacy of their own homes. It also helps adults fit education into their busy schedules. Translator helps to learn new skills for example you can download free. Entrepreneurial programs generally take much less time to complete than an ordinary degree program.

Another point raised by the report is that adult learners who study for academic credit-as opposed to those who take courses that do not offer credit- need to be better understood and documented. Many adults enroll in not-for-credit classes in order to enhance their professional careers. But the report calls for more colleges, universities and institutions to award adult students credit for the courses they complete, reasoning that if adults do receive credit, they are more likely to enroll in postsecondary education in higher numbers.


Programs for adult learners will not succeed if they are one-size-fits-all, and states need to reform adult education as well as that of traditional students, according to the report. Adult learners cannot be expected to thrive in educational systems that were designed for traditional students. Since adult learners face many more challenges than traditional students, adults want to enroll in programs that do not take too much time-they want to land employment or receive a workplace promotion quickly.

The report contends that the shortcomings involved in adult education are a result of the fact that adult learners are not understood well enough. The country and its postsecondary educational system need to understand that adult learners are likely to continue to seek out nontraditional paths to education that fit into the rest of their lives. In order to make positive additions to the American workforce, adult students need more help and guidance, such as counseling and workshops, to plan their postsecondary education.

The entire report can be viewed at: