Understanding the Changes Needed for Adult Education

When someone decides to continue their education beyond high school, they will often assume that this new education will be the same as the old education they received. Prospective students make plans to do what they did before. Anyway, it worked then, so it should work now. This assumption of commonality leads many new adult students astray to such an extent that they cannot change their behavior, which means that they usually will not complete their course of study and will not receive the degree they desire, all from bad assumptions.

Cause of Distinction

Middle school and adult education are such different stems from two clear differences between the two styles of education: source and target. When you change the start of the educational process, namely beliefs and assumptions about students, and the mark of the educational process, namely the desired level of understanding, the method may change.

Adult education starts with the student’s image, which is very different from that of high school. A high school student usually stays at home with some support from their parents. A high school student is also relatively free from responsibilities; it is very rare for a high school student to have a full-time job, family, and household to support. In addition, high school student is typically inexperienced in managing their own lives. Adult students tend to live alone, with work and family and other responsibilities balanced with the school. In short, high school students are teenagers, whereas college students are, well, adults.

Secondary school education aims to provide a basic understanding of the world that students will enter. High school classes are designed for the general population and provide an experience of the skills and knowledge needed for new adults. Adult education is designed for a more focused outcome, providing a deeper understanding of a particular subject matter. This focus means that adult courses overlook other skills and other aspects of the student.

Implications for Students

A high school student should approach their course with a different mindset and set of behaviors than an adult student. Adult students are given more control over their behavior and more responsibility.

An adult student is responsible for making sure the work for the class is done, not the teacher. Students will be reminded periodically of lost and upcoming work, but the responsibility for completing work is the student, not the teacher. Many teachers will not allow delay or will severely penalize late work. And most of the adult classroom work is done outside of the classroom.

Adult education covers more material in the same period. Teachers will often cover material once or twice on the assumption that students who don’t understand will work outside the classroom to study it and visit the instructor during office hours. While adults can expect some repetition in class, it will be much less than they experienced in high school.

Adult students need to practice time management at a much higher level than high school students. This need for time management stems from the increased workload of the course and other facets of student life. Adult students are assumed to handle this time management, and if they run into problems, they need to seek the necessary help.

Finally, adult students are responsible for their commitment to the course. Given the juvenile nature of their students, high school teachers are constantly working to make students understand why something is being learned. This is much more important for an adult teacher. In contrast, an adult teacher can justify studying a particular subject, and the adult student must already justify being in school. After all, it is the student’s choice to attend.

Students, not teachers, drive adult education. If a student has the motivation, then they will succeed.