56: University of Louisville asks Adult Students for a Second Chance

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Matt Bergman, Assistant Professor at University of Louisville, discusses why when it comes to recruiting adult students, rather than giving them another chance to earn their degree, we need to ask them to give us another chance.

You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Evu podcast network. I'm Eric Olson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here today with Dr Matt Bergman, Assistant Professor at University of Louisville. Matt, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Really excited to have you and talk with you today about how institutions need to rather than giving adult students a second chance, we need to ask adult students to give us a second chance. But before we dig into that, Matt, can you the listeners a little bit better understanding of both the University of Louisville and your rule there? So...

...at the University of Louisville I work with a specific adult degree completion program called a Bachelor of Science and organizational leadership, very typical of larger universities and more traditional institutions offering a general business, organizational leadership, interdistionary studies, General Studies type degree. That really carves out of space for a traditional institution to serve adult student very well, despite the fact that they're very large and scope, serving eighteen to roughly seven year olds. Really excited to talk about this topic with you today. When it comes to recruiting adult students, rather than giving adult students a second chance of their college experience, help us understand why you think we need to ask adult students to give us a second chance. With adults, they have done so much within the work world. Oftentimes when they come back they come with a specific set of baggage and if we can kind of unpack that baggage that we can have individuals in our classrooms that make them...

...so unbelievably better because of the context that they bring to the academic setting. They might not be perfectly situated to write an APA paper, but when given the tools, they can plug back in and they can be the best students that you could possibly have as a professor. Now, you were recently a panelist in a discussion about adult students at the Education Commission of States. National Form Entitled Twenty Seven is the new eighteen. Can you talk about why hid needs to focus on making ourselves more accessible to the adult learner population? Well, one specific and very pragmatic reason is the demographic cliff that we're facing and then that roughly next ten years, the birth rate has basically created a situation where we're not going to have as many high school graduates filling the pipelines of our higher education institutions. Subsequently, we have to look at other avenues to...

...make sure that we maintain enrollments at a broad array of institutions. Now, this may not impact, it will not impact very high level elite institutions. However, within the mid level and the lower level institutions that are struggling for tuition revenue, they are going to have to seek different avenues to fill their pipelines and that is truly essential that we look at adults as this possibility, because there are roughly thirty six million adults with some college in a degree, and I repeat thirty six million. That is so many individuals that we could draw from to help them finish what they started last year or long ago. Matt, many institutions have some sort of prior learning assessment place to offer course credit for past work in life experiences. Talk about how important that is and how this PLA program works. At the University of Louisville, at the University of little will, we offer prioring assessment similar to that of many institutions across...

...the United States. You wouldn't think that many institutions offer this college credit for work related experiential learning, but it is very rampant within both traditional and more adult focused institutions. There are leaders in this industry, including Thomas Addison State University and University of Phoenix. University of Louis will does really great job, University of Memphis and there are many, many more. But we are trying to find ways to make this more standard and there are specifically four reasons I think this makes sense for universities to consider PLA. And number one is it is empirically proven that students can get to graduation at a greater pace, in a greater graduation rate when given access to PLA. So someone that comes in from the outside working full time for ten plus years can produce and compile a portfolio and get college credit that will increase their past to graduation and actually their...

...graduation right. Number two, when they do this process, they are more engaged in the academic setting. So think about it. If you've been away for a long time, you get an opportunity to write about your experiential learning that happens on a daily basis and that's translated into college credit, you're more likely engaged and happy to be a college student again. Number three is students on average take nine point nine credits more than those that don't have access to PLA. Now that sounds incredibly counter into because why would you say a person's getting college credit for what they've learned out and so out in the workplace and then and they are taking more college credit? Well, the retention rate in the persistent rates of adult students is so much lower than traditional age students that when given an opportunity to access PLA, they are actually persisting at a higher rate, thus generating more college credits. So it flies in the face of...

...many folks that are naysayers suggesting that you cannot give away college credits. Well, we're not, and people are actually taking more college credits in the end. And finally, the one of the most important pieces for faculty to know is this is not going to generally impact the discipline. So what I mean by that is these are not towards a specific major. They are generally towards elective base credit and maybe a general education class and maybe a major class or two, but it is not going to impact the major and take away from what our faculty are actually normally teaching these individuals. Mad next let's talk about course scheduling for the part time adult student looking to balance family work school. What can institutions do to make it easier for adults to complete their degree faster? Well, at Complete College America they've done a lot of work that suggests...

...that fifteen to finish is the way and it is empirically proven that. The research shows that when a person and rolls full time, they are more like clay to graduate. And that sounds wonderful, but with adults it doesn't necessarily work. My friends at CCA, along with Sarah Ansel, she really has laid this out so well to me that we have started at the university at Louisbel to rethink how we offer classes and the way we attack this is by offering eight week semester or eight week sessions, and it works out so well with the academic semester calendar that we end up getting close to twenty four, twenty seven hours in the one year time frame. Now that fifteen to finish. We're not quite at thirty, but we're really darn close, because when we think about a semester calendar, you start in August, then you have another class in October, then you have a winter session class, then us...

...two in the spring, in two and or three in the summer and you are absolutely tearing up some credit hours towards your degree. You're making very efficient progress towards towards graduation. Now, what are some other strategies you're seeing working at other colleges and universities to better cater to working adults? Obviously, when you think about working with adults, having after our services, student services, academic services is a real key. And all of this when we think about the eight hundred and twenty five. If a person is a working adult and they're on that first of traditional schedule, it is impossible for them to come into the BURSAR or the registrar's office or the admissions office wherever around campus. It is near impossible for those individuals to come in during the day. So a key element of many adult programs is to have after our opportunities for them to connect with the institution. When those services are in place, alongside an efficient and convenient, flexible schedule, they don't necessarily adults don't necessarily have as...

...good an excuse not to come back and finish what they started. Matt, really good stuff. I mean next steps, advice for institutions who are listening to this, understanding that they need to make it a critical focus of their operations to focus on this new traditional student, the adult student, and they're looking to figure out ways to better support the learners on their return to degree completion. Well, I think there are so many individuals and professional organizations connecting in this sphere now. So places like the graduate network. So if you are part of a graduate network, network community, connect with them because they can funnel students into your institution when they know that you offer adult learner friendly practices. The council and Adult experiential learning works with clap and dsst as well as prior learning assessment and they do a lot of research on that with strata and Lumina as well. And then the Complete College of America Group is out,...

...absolutely outstanding. So I think there are so many resources for institutions now to plug into and look at best practices, as well as seek guidance and support to get into this game of supporting adults at a better clip, and I think traditional institutions are starting to get there. It's taken a while, but we have really been pushed by the for profit sector to get our stuff together as institutions, traditional institutions, to serve these adults and a better manner. Because the for profits did such a good job at recruiting these folks and offering a good deal for them, maybe they didn't deliver on the retention as well. That's where traditional institutions could very well pick up that slack and incorporate some of those recruiting practices to make the transition seamless and convenient for someone that is trying to balance a really robust, competing responsibilities type of life. Matt,...

...really great stuff. Thanks so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you they have any follow up questions? You can find me at on twitter at Matt Bergman. One you can find me at the University of Louisle, at Matt Dot Bergman, at Louisville Dot Etu. Hit me up on Facebook, Linkedin, wherever you want. I'm happy to connect and I love working with adults. So if you're an adult with some college in a degree, will find a place for you, whether it's at the University of little or somewhere else, or if you're an academic professional, connect with me and let's talk about adults. We need to serve this group. There are thirty six million people with some college no degree. If we can, we can somehow take a piece of bite out of that group, we can have a more educated citizenry and we will have a very prosperous economy if we get more people graduated. Hey Man, thanks again so much for joining us today. That all right, appreciates time. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven,...

...enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Download it today for free at Helix educationcoms playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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