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Supporting Lifelong Learning

Posted on September 2, 2022 at 10:50 AM by Monica Clark

Adult Education in Community Colleges is a bit of a misnomer. After all, most of our students, regardless of their programs, are adults, and even within “adult education,” some students are 16-18 years old. While the language may be imperfect, the programs are vital to the success of families and communities. Under this umbrella is adult basic education (ABE), English as a second language (ESL), high school equivalency diplomas, and other training to help these learners improve their education and skill levels to meet employer demands and secure living-wage jobs. Much of this programming is considered “non-credit” and in the 2020-2021 school year there were over 10,000 students statewide.

The largest age group last year was between 25 to 44 years of age with 3,776 students (50.3 percent) and ages 19 to 24 with 1,928 students (25.7 percent). Of these, 54.2 percent were female and 37.1 percent self-identified as white. Another 28.3 percent of participants identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino, 24.7 percent as black or African American, and 5.6 percent as Asian. The remaining three categories (American Indian, Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander and two or more races) combined for 4.3 percent of the participants.

Last year, due to the pandemic, enrollment was down 22.9 percent, however, there was an increase in students making the transition to online learning. In AY20-21, distance education served 2,290 participants with 241,203 hours. This is a 95.7 percent increase in distance education enrollment and a 47.0 percent increase in distance education hours over AY19-20. This increase in distance education enrollment contributes to the five-year average increase of 84.0 percent. To respond to this need, the Iowa Distance Education Adult Literacy (IDEAL) project was initiated in the summer of 2020 and offers high-quality, teacher-led master courses statewide via an online learning platform.

For in-person learning, Iowa’s Community Colleges have over 150 locations statewide, most offering at least some adult education opportunities. Since many of these students are working parents and some lack transportation, the goal is to offer accessible programming wherever you live. This includes offering courses in local public libraries such as Orange City and community centers like the Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center in Waterloo.

NICC student inspired to become nurse after completing HSED

Savannah Malli needed to earn her high school diploma, and after her grandmother recommended Northeast Iowa Community College, she completed the High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) program. Then, after her daughter was in the NICU, she found her passion in nursing.

“The online option helped me so much. I was able to stay home with my kids, save on gas money and childcare, and do my assignments on my own time, which really played a big role in graduating. Sarah Beaman, my college and career coach, zoomed with me twice a week to make sure I was understanding the HSED material. I couldn’t have completed the program without her,” she said.

Full story.

Hiring ESL workers can give businesses a boost up

This Iowa Valley blog post dives into how integral and important bilingual workers are to keeping up with the global marketplace.

"You're never too old" - Obtaining high school diploma through HiSET with SWCC support

It’s never too late to earn your high school diploma! Read about a Southwestern Community College employee who hit the books and earned her High School Equivalency Diploma at age 48.

Domino effect of Adult Education and Literacy (AEL)

Students at NCC talk about how learning English and completing their HSED has made huge impacts on themselves, their futures, and their families. YouTube link.

Completing HSED at NIACC opens doors

Not having a high school diploma makes getting ahead in life very difficult. These two students talk about their successes in completing their HSED program and their transition to taking credit courses. YouTube link.

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