Seven Needs of Adult Learners and How to Meet Them

| Student Life

Ryan Longnecker headshotLet's dive into the heart of adult learning, shall we? It's all about fitting the "cherry" of a college degree onto the cupcake that is your life – juggling jobs, family, friends and personal growth. When your needs as an adult student are addressed, you’ll see that your degree is about more than acquiring knowledge. It's about transformation, fostering continuous improvement and the immediate application of what you’ve learned in your personal and professional life. In effect, you’ll be waking up as a better version of yourself every day.

Based on years of interaction and practice, these are the most prevalent needs we witness among adults who choose to extend their academic careers through higher education.

The Why
This is the driving force, the burning question that kick-starts your journey back to school. Maybe it's for a career leap, chasing a dream or growing as a person. This isn't merely about obtaining a degree; it's a deep exploration of your goals, ambitions and motivations that propel you forward. Recognizing your purpose helps you persevere through challenges and shapes your learning experience, making it more meaningful and better aligned with your objectives – ensuring the journey is as rewarding as the destination.

The How
Clarity is key when you have a million things on your plate. This means getting down to brass tacks with what each course demands; understanding the roadmap for each assignment; and knowing what resources are at your disposal to make the grade. With a myriad of responsibilities and limited time, you'll benefit significantly from precise, actionable guidance to meet or exceed academic expectations. At Trevecca, this includes detailed syllabi, clear assignment rubrics, specific instructor feedback and a comprehensive outline of learning outcomes. This clarity in expectations and available support will help you manage time and resources wisely –  empowering you to take proactive steps toward academic excellence. Successful navigation of the "how" transforms the educational experience from a daunting task into a manageable and rewarding journey.

The Connection
This is where your world meets the classroom. It's about ensuring that the experiences you bring to the table aren't just acknowledged but actually used to enrich learning for everyone. This approach involves designing learning opportunities that recognize, value and utilize your diverse life experience. Doing so creates a more engaging and relevant curriculum that bridges the gap between theory and practice, making learning more applicable and empowering. This approach builds an environment where students feel seen, valued and understood – deepening the educational journey and transforming it into a collaborative, enriching process.

The Respect
Respect is a game-changer – creating a space where everyone's insights are heard and valued. It's a two-way street of learning where you and your professors share the stage, each bringing unique experiences to break down walls and build up minds. In this type of rich educational landscape, every participant, regardless of their role, is both a teacher and a learner, contributing unique insights and solutions. Such a culture nurtures critical thinking, empathy and a passion for learning while preparing students for the collaborative and diverse nature of the modern workforce. 

The Freedom
This is the golden ticket to making learning work on your clock. It's the freedom to log in to your class after the kids are in bed or during lunch break at work. It's learning that is tailored to adult life, not the other way around. Flexibility in accessing lectures, materials and assignments allows learners to tailor their educational journey so it fit seamlessly into their existing routines–without sacrificing the quality of their learning or the progress toward their goals. This freedom acknowledges your unique challenges and empowers you to take control of your educational endeavors, making learning more accessible, inclusive and achievable. As a result, you can maintain your responsibilities while pursuing personal and professional development, epitomizing a genuine learner-centered approach that supports success in all facets of life – learner, parent, scholar, spouse, author or friend.

The Feedback
Feedback is the gold standard of learning – but also the toughest. It's not about patting on the back or pointing fingers; it's about giving you real talk on where you stand and how to be better. As we say, “acknowledge who you are right now so you can plan for who you want to be in the future." By focusing on detailed feedback, you are equipped with the tools to refine skills, deepen understanding and enhance work quality in real time–fostering a mindset geared toward growth and adaptability. This cycle of receiving, reflecting upon and acting on feedback transforms the educational experience into an iterative learning and personal development process.

The Momentum
We must keep the ball rolling. It's about taking the theory from last night's homework and turning it into today's organizational win. By integrating academic learning with real-world application, the program should not only reinforce the relevance of the curriculum but also accelerate your growth, enabling a seamless transition of skills from the classroom to the workplace. This approach is about creating a virtuous cycle of learning, application and improvement that propels adult learners forward, ensuring their educational journey is deeply intertwined with their career advancement and personal growth.

To wrap things up, adult learning isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition. It's about crafting an experience that respects and utilizes the full spectrum of adult life. At Trevecca, we're not just doling out knowledge. We’re tailoring a transformative journey. This is education that empowers, that makes today count in the classroom and the office. We don't just fill brains; we change lives. Does this sound like what you're looking for?