Our Work
Shannon Looney
Project Manager
Collaborating for Change


Adult Learners Toolkit

Adult learners, many of them transferring from two-year colleges, present challenges for institutions attuned to working with more traditional students. Nearly a quarter of our USU member institutions enroll students over the age of 25 making them uniquely equipped at providing recommendations on how to better support this growing student population.

A working group, led by Portland State University and the University of Akron, emerged in the TPG project. Both PSU and Akron have noticeably larger adult student populations and commonly enroll from local community colleges. As a product of their collaboration, the group developed an Adult Learners Toolkit. This toolkit includes a slate of evaluation, management, and tracking tools that both institutions have used in their transformational efforts to better support adult students and their success.

Below are recommendations and quick links to access the recommended resources and tools employed by participating Collaborating for Change institutions. The full Toolkit may be accessed here.

Evaluation & Program Management

  • Establish evaluation processes to understand needs and successes of adult learners
  • Understand previous academic experiences and flexibility needs and how these might align with degree completion at your institution​
  • Assess institutional capacity to disrupt accepted practices that support adult student needs

Assessment & Tracking

  • Assess the capacity and adaptability of the institution to support adult learner needs
  • Develop planning and management tools to help evaluate, manage, and track institutional progress for adult learners
  • Help adult students plan and track their own progress towards degree completion and skills mastery with tools that make information easily accessible and understandable.

Community-Building & Partnerships

  • Include assessment of relevant vendors and community partners in early planning stages
  • Make career readiness/jobs skill mastery an integral part of success planning

Featured Project & Initiative

The Data Literacy Institute – a partnership between APLU and the Association for Institutional Research with funding from Ascendium – brings together cross-departmental teams from 11 Powered by Publics institutions from Cluster 14 to engage in training that enhance their use of data to improve equitable student outcomes. In May 2022, Powered by Publics held […]

Featured Publication

2022 APLU Annual Report