Community colleges have long been at the front lines of educating adult learners. While the average age of a community college student is 28, traditional higher education programs were created with 18-to-22-year-old, dependent, full-time students coming right out of high school in mind. These programs were not designed for the needs of adult learners, many of whom are under pressure to enter, reenter or advance in the workforce quickly to support their families.

Accelerating Pathways to Careers for Adult Learners uses case studies to highlight community college accelerated program models and services that were designed for adult students. The case studies are drawn from programs funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Act Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program. The adult-friendly models featured in the report fall into three main categories for evidence-based strategies that help adult learners reenter school and eventually find jobs, as outlined below: