- The number of parents returning to school to pursue undergraduate degrees increased by more than 30% between 2004 and 2012.
- The rise in the number of parents entering or returning to college is a stark contrast to the decreasing number of child care centers on campuses, which has dropped by more than 10% in the last ten years.
- Community colleges have struggled with figuring out how to integrate parents into campus life and activities, while for-profits have carved out a strong niche with adult learners but have drawn controversy for saddling graduates with significant debt and low career prospects.
Institutions which can configure budgets to solve the childcare issue while helping students to participate in the collegiate experience are more likely to attract and retain students from this group. Parents of all ages want flexible scheduling to accommodate work and appreciate programs which focus on competency-based education to measure mastery of curricula in some courses.
Schools with strong programs in military and veterans engagement seem to be a natural model for leaders seeking best practices in adult learner support. These programs not only deal with cultural and academic issues impacting re-entering military professionals, but frequently offer support with family management and career planning — essential tools for all adult learners.