Survey says: More adults are going back to school

By Erin Eagan


Nicolet College recently conducted a survey of adult learners in the district led by Managing Director of Strategic Initiatives Chuck Komp. The survey found that 53 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 45 were “likely” to “very likely” to pursue some form of higher education in the next five years.

Nationally, the number of students 25 years and older is expected to make up 43 percent of all college and graduate students by 2020; with 9.6 million older students heading to campus, according to the National Center for Education Studies. The growing presence of adults on college campuses is no coincidence, as economic factors have led many of them to pursue higher education.

Wisconsin’s technical colleges were created to address some of the challenges adult learners face, and that is no less true today. Some hallmarks of the technical colleges are now commonly offered by other institutions and help make returning to school a reality for an increasing number of students.  

1. Affordability

At a technical college, students are able to get a degree or certificate more quickly and inexpensively. In fact, tuition costs at Wisconsin’s technical colleges are much lower than most other colleges and universities. Average annual tuition is $3,775. To help out with tuition and other expenses, there are many resources available for financial aid assistance. Beyond that, there are grants, loans and other aid programs available for those who need it.

2. Time

The thought of going back to school can be overwhelming. Throw in having to work simultaneously, raise a family and balance other responsibilities and it may seem nearly impossible. For students with time constraints, Flexible Learning Options are available at all of Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges to fit education into already busy schedules. Students can access educational, credit-based courses from home, work or remote campuses through video-based telecourses, two-way interactive television and online courses.

3. Credit for prior learning

Technical colleges recognize that some students may have acquired valuable knowledge and skills outside of school and offer Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) programs. CPL is a process of evaluating and awarding college credit based on the demonstration of college-level learning gained through experiences. It allows you to earn your degree faster by eliminating the need to enroll in and complete every course in your program, saving you time and money. There are several avenues by which you earn credentials or work toward a degree/diploma, via transfer credits, military service, exams and occupational experience.

Contact your local technical college representative to learn more about services to help you continue your education.