In fall 2013 at UNG, adult learners, classified as students age 23 or older, represented 27 percent of the university's entire undergraduate and graduate enrollment. For undergraduate enrollment, adult learners made up 16 percent of full-time students and 43 percent of part-time students – numbers that have increased from the previous year.
"It is natural for us at the University of North Georgia to focus on this population because adult learners make up 24 percent of our entire undergraduate student population," said Chaudron Gille, UNG's associate vice president for university affairs and academic services. "Adult learners typically are very focused and motivated to succeed in their studies, but they also may be insecure about their abilities as a student because they feel that their study skills are rusty."
On July 29, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby and Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson announced the statewide "Go Back. Move Ahead." campaign to encourage the 1.1 million working-age adults, or 22 percent of the state's population, who attended college for some time but did not finish. The initiative will offer Georgians a simpler enrollment process, more flexible ways to transfer earned college credits, additional course schedule options and a personal academic advisor –services already available at UNG.
"In order for Georgia to remain economically competitive, we must have an educated work force, and focusing on college completion is one way we intend to do that," Deal said. "'Go Back. Move Ahead.' provides resources for prospective students and makes it easy for any Georgian who has started college to go back to school and earn a degree or certificate."
With four campuses located across northeast Georgia, UNG has made access to higher education part of its strategic mission and offers more than 100 programs of study ranging from certificate and associate degrees to professional doctoral programs.
The university's Center for Adult Learners and the Military (CALM) (http://ung.edu/adult-learners-military/alrc/index.php) is one central resource that can help returning adults navigate the admissions process, connect with campus resources, and network with peers who have successfully made the transition back to school. Christy Orr, CALM director, said the center creates an adult-friendly environment across all four campuses.
"CALM offers UNG adult learners personal intrusive advising, career planning, financial advisement, and prior learning experience assessment," Orr said. "The Go Back, Move Ahead initiative enhances CALM's current services and will aid in creating additional programs that will benefit adult learners."
All of UNG's core curriculum classes, and many other courses, are available online through the university's eCore affiliation. UNG offers several programs online, including master's degrees in international affairs, criminal justice, physical education or education; teacher education endorsements in gifted or reading; bachelor of nursing in RN to BSN; and certificate of gerontology. Online and evening courses provide greater flexibility to students who are attending part-time and planning their studies around a work schedule, Gille said. In some cases, adult learners also can be awarded college credit for prior experience.
"We recognize that many adult learners have knowledge from their jobs or other experiences that overlap with the content of some college courses," Gille said. "By demonstrating this knowledge through an exam or portfolio, they can receive credit for the course. This saves them both time and money."
Other services for adult learners at UNG include workshops and resource materials, study areas, counseling services, learning support, and tutoring services.
"Go Back. Move Ahead." is part of Deal's "Complete College Georgia" initiative, which launched in 2011 to increase the percentage of Georgia's population with some level of college completion to 60 percent by the year 2020 to meet projected workforce needs.