For adult students summer months don’t necessarily mean a break in school. While for some people the summer months might be a time to slow down and take life a bit easier, for the adult learner summer months present a time to build momentum, achieve goals and move close to degree completion. Enrolling in each successive semester, without taking a break is advantageous for adult learners.
Research from the University of North Carolina and many higher education institutions shows that students who continuously enroll have higher completion rates and complete their degrees faster. There are several reasons for this. Adult students need to combine their worlds of work and school. As much as possible these two need worlds need to coexist without disruption. Continuous enrollment helps create that pattern in several ways.
Being part of a culture of continuous progress creates a momentum that helps propel students towards degree completion. Advancing the forward progress, rather than breaking the momentum, also creates momentum at work. With a continuous enrollment students can align their education goals with career paths and stay on a path that is in line with business goals, providing benefits to employers and student-employee alike.
Enrollment in successive semesters creates connections between students and faculty. Research has shown that student success is highly related to having a faculty member who is supportive and takes a personal interest in the employee. During the summer when classes may be smaller there is more of an opportunity to engage with professors and build support systems within the school. The continuous advising will help students stay on a clear completion path and provide interventions to overcome any obstacles that may surface.
Continuous enrollment also creates cohort groups among students. There is power in having peers with similar goals taking classes together, similar to having mentors and co-workers who support each other at work. This becomes the group that will encourage each other, solve problems together, and increase each other’s communication skills as they apply their knowledge to practical situations. While continuous enrollment may seem daunting on an individual basis, for groups of students it can create even greater success.
Even though staying in school continuously provides advantages, it isn’t easy. Adult students/workers have to make conscious decisions about their efforts. People who believe they have control over their circumstances fare better than those who believe they are at the mercy of circumstances beyond their control. Taking charge of a degree path and deciding to control the pace of education by continuously enrolling puts the student in control of the duration of the education path. Those who take a break during summer months because that is traditional practice, rather than setting their own schedule, will lose momentum and find it more difficult to regain control of their education path.
Continuous enrollment and expectations of success are closely intertwined. For adult students one will benefit the other, in school and work. As students see value in a class they are taking, and realize its part in the education process, they will experience motivation. The motivation and resulting success that students experience create the momentum toward continuous enrollment and develop persistence in moving toward the end goal of degree completion. The patterns of success experienced in continuous enrollment are valuable in degree completion and the patterns of behavior created with continuous enrollment are valuable in the workplace.
Adrienne Way, President & CEO
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