For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Powers, 610-740-3790 or lmpowers@cedarcrest.edu

Annual Conference to Instruct Colleges on Better Serving Adult Learners

Allentown, Pa. (May 22, 2013)—The fastest growing population in Colleges and Universities across the nation is adult learners. Institutions are continuously working to adapt to the unique needs of these mature students that are significantly different than those of recent high school graduates. The Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) is working to help local institutions better serve the adult learner at the Seventh Annual LVAIC Conference on Serving Adult Learners that will take place on Thursday, May 30 from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Cedar Crest College.

The conference will explore and address a variety of issues related to adult students. Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Sloan Consortium, Inc., Dr. Bruce Chaloux, will present "The Adult Learning Conundrum: Perils and Prospects," focusing on the United State’s decrease in degree completion among adults and the implications this has for the country’s competitiveness in the global market.

“With over 40 million working-age adults with some college, but no degree, the adult degree completion 'market' has become a very competitive one,” said Dr. Chaloux. “The way institutions need to structure programs to serve adults has changed. Online and flexible options, with services designed to meet their needs, is now the standard. The movement towards competency-based, including prior learning, assessment is a driver and a differentiator in the market.”

Dr. Chaloux added that with the number of institutions offering online courses, the competition for attracting adult learners expands far beyond Pennsylvania and therefore institutions need to provide a strong value proposition.

The National Center for Education Statistics recorded a 42 percent increase in students over the age of 25 between 2000 and 2010. They project that the number of college students over the age of 25 will continue to rise, with a 20 percent increase between 2010 and 2020. There are several potential factors that contribute to this gradual increase—one being demographic.

“The millennial generation, one of the biggest swathes of our population, will be in the adult learner age range,” said Gaetan Giannini, Dean of Cedar Crest’s School of Adult and Graduate Education. “Accompany this with professions pressuring practitioners to attain higher levels of education and you've got a spike in demand.” For example, The National League of Nursing is pushing a law that will require students graduating as an R.N. to earn their B.S.N. within 10 years.

“On top of that, a weak economy allows employers to be picky. It's rough getting a job without a degree,” he said.

Giannini added that while adult learners may not be interested in the traditional college experience, they are looking to connect to a campus, while expanding their intellectual and career potential.

“Colleges need to be sensitive to the demands on the adult learner's life,” he said. “I'm not saying classes need to be easy, but they have to be manageable. The program design and support system at a successful college will be set up to help adults cope with and balance these stressors.”

Previous attendees of the annual conference have represented many institutions of higher education including community colleges, two-year colleges, and private and public colleges and universities. 

The cost of the conference is $25 per person which includes continental breakfast, lunch, and conference materials. To register visit sage.cedarcrest.edu/lvaic-adult-learners.

About the speaker:
Dr. Bruce Chaloux is the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Sloan Consortium, a position assumed in March, 2012. He previously served for 14 years as Director of Student Access Programs and Services at the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) in Atlanta, Georgia. In this role, he oversaw several projects including SREB’s 16-state Electronic Campus the South’s “electronic marketplace” for distance learning courses, programs and services, which has grown to include more than 40,000 credit courses and 2,000 degree programs from 300 colleges and universities in the region.
 
His recent efforts have focused on adult learning and, in particular, developing strategies and programming to address the burgeoning adult degree completion market. He has worked with several SREB states in program development, focusing on four principles: using online/blended delivery, ‘compressing’ or accelerating learning periods, recognizing credits from experiential and competency-based learning and redefining services for returning adults. He has carried these principles on to Sloan C, which will host the AdultLearner.org.
 
He has been a faculty member and administrator at Virginia Tech and Castleton State College in his home state of Vermont, headed Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Campus, and was on the staff of the Virginia State Council for Higher Education.
 
He has published numerous articles and chapters in professional journals and books and has contributed to numerous reports on technology, quality assurance, distance learning and adult education. He has made nearly 1000 presentations on these and related topics both in the U.S. and abroad. He has served as a consultant to some 20 states, to numerous colleges and universities, and has worked internationally with agencies or institutions in Canada, Hong Kong, the European Union, the Palestinian Territories and the United Arab Emirates

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