News & Events / For adults returning to college, ‘free’ tuition isn’t enough

For adults returning to college, ‘free’ tuition isn’t enough

Published Aug 05, 2021

By Laura Pappano, The Hechinger Report

Shasta College in Redding, California, serving a rural region in the northern part of the state, had an eye-opening experience five years ago while planning an adult-friendly accelerated program. When a task force took stock, said Kate Mahar, the dean of innovation and strategic initiatives, it discovered that “we were not set up to serve people who had responsibilities other than school.”

Courses were held midday, “making it almost impossible to hold a job” and attend full time, which allows students more financial aid. Support offices were open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. And, said Mahar, schedules shifted each semester, so adults had to reorganize their lives.

Many adults do go back, then stop out. Some even earn degrees — but leave without getting them. One big surprise at Shasta came as the college worked with Degrees When Due, a project of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a national nonprofit group that seeks to improve higher education access and completion. Shasta conducted an audit of those who’d dropped out despite having earned all or nearly all the required number of credits. It turned out that about 35 percent of them were missing a single required computer literacy class.

Read the full article at The Hechinger Report.