Transformation From Within

Higher education is facing a disruption, but the biggest driver of change is getting lost in the hype. That's the message of a new report commissioned by the academy’s primary trade group, the American Council on Education.

“There is indeed a transformation coming in American higher education,” writes Louis Soares, a special policy adviser to the council’s president, Molly Corbett Broad. “It is not driven by technology or MOOCs, though these tools abet the change. It will be driven by the rise of post-traditional learners.”

Soares, who was until recently a fellow at the Center for American Progress, defines post-traditional learners as the working-age population, between ages 25-64, who lack a college credential but are seeking to get ahead while balancing jobs with educational and family responsibilities.

This group is a growing presence in higher education, and has become the norm by some measures. Yet they fare worse in college than traditional students, graduating at lower rates. The reasons for this lag are understandable: older generally students typically have rusty academic skills and little scheduling flexibility, and often lack good information about what sort of job they might get with a college credential.

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INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION

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