The Joy of Adult Education

August 8th, 2011 | 66 comments

In this issue of Crossroads, you will learn more about one of our programs that serves both our students and our community – our Adult Degree Completion Program, or ADCP. Our ADCP students are working adults from our surrounding region, and they are some of the hardest working students on campus. In addition to their regular workday lives, ADCP graduates have attended one class per week for 15 or 18 months straight – often in the evening, with no summers off – to resume and finish something that they likely started (and paused) many years ago, a college education leading to a bachelor’s degree.

Fred Kniss '79, PhD, with Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, who has been both a student and teacher at EMU

For the last five years, ADCP graduates have averaged between one quarter and one third of our graduating class. None of us could have imagined the growing demand for ADCP when EMU started the program in 1995 with a single cohort in Harrisonburg. In May, students from eight ADCP cohorts joined hundreds of traditional undergraduates at commencement. Over the last 16 years, a total of 1,178 adults have completed their degrees through ADCP, including those who have earned their college degrees through our RN to BS degree in nursing program in both Lancaster and Harrisonburg and those who have majored in management and organizational development, a program currently offered only in Harrisonburg.

Behind these numbers are hundreds of inspiring stories – you will read a few of them in this issue – belonging to people whom we feel proud to call “alumni of EMU” and who are showing that their EMU degrees were not a conclusion to their efforts, but a starting point for even greater accomplishments. Yet EMU needs to find ways to do even more to serve prospective adult students, because in serving these students we also serve our community and society. Consider this: About 38 percent of American adults, ages 25 to 64, hold a two-year college degree or higher, according to a Lumina Foundation for Education report in 2010. That means that 62 percent do not have such credentials. About 22 percent of working adults have attended college but not completed a degree. Yet about 60 percent of U.S. jobs will require a post-secondary degree by the year 2018, according to projections by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Filling this gap will require universities across the nation to expand their adult education programs, and EMU intends to be among those on the leading edge of this movement.

On a personal note, I am writing this opening letter because President Loren Swartzendruber is taking a much-deserved three-month sabbatical this summer in preparation for beginning his third four-year term as EMU’s president. In my usual role of provost, the educational and curricular aspects of EMU fall under my purview, so I receive regular feedback on the work of ADCP. It is one of the most gratifying tasks in my portfolio and one of the most important services we provide for our Virginia and Pennsylvania communities.

Fred Kniss ’79, PhD
Provost and Acting President

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