- A school must enroll 24% or more adult learners to earn a place in the Women’s Final Four.
- The 2 schools who advance to the finals boast adult-learner populations that approach nearly half of the entire student body. The Women’s Bracket finalists include UT Arlington, where 43% of the students are 25 and older, and University of Maryland, where 42% of all students are adults.
- The Global Campus at Maryland drives its adult learner success. As the largest public university in the country, Maryland serves more than 50,000 active-duty military service members. Its 90+ degree programs include a cybersecurity program ranked 4th in the country by the Military Times.
- University of the Incarnate Word makes a strong showing in the Women’s Bracket as well. Advancing to the Elite 8, UIW is the largest Catholic university in Texas. Nearly 1,700 of its 5081 students are adult learners. The university has established 2 campuses in Mexico and a distance learning site in Strasbourg, France. With a focus on the health sciences, UIW serves students interested in Pharmacy, Optometry, Physical Therapy, and Osteopathic Medicine. More than 50% of UIW students have roots in the Latinx or Hispanic community. As such the school awards more degrees to Hispanic students nationally than any other private school in the country.
- ACHE member institution, Brigham Young University, who makes it to the Final Four in the women’s bracket, serves more than 22,000 adult learners. The school has more than 300 academic programs including 30 doctoral programs. The Wall Street Journal named BYU the #1 university in the West for student engagement.
- The big winner of the Women’s Bracket, UT Arlington (who beats Purdue by 6 percentage points) serves 15,000 adult learners. It is clear that Arlington is working to create an environment that is comfortable and inclusive for all learners. That sense of belonging has led the school to be named #1 in the nation for veterans and their families by The Military Times. In addition Diverse: Issues in Higher Education name UT Arlington the #1 school in Texas for awarding degrees to African-American students. Further, U.S. News and World Report names the campus #3 in the nation for undergraduate student diversity. The institutions also offers a large number of certificate programs through the Division for Enterprise Development that could be very attractive to adult learners.
Adding the schools in the women’s tournament this year really helped to elevate the number of schools that could be featured as winners in serving adult learners; a fitting observation given the inclusive strides Title IX made in providing scholarship access to female college athletes. 40 years ago, the NCAA hosted the first women’s basketball championship. It is fitting that we celebrate these important milestones in the history of women in college and the university and even more fitting that ACHE use this moment to celebrate the contributions of female student-athletes along with the contributions adult learners make to higher education communities. Once again, I can’t be held responsible for any wagers you make based upon this analysis, but the lessons we can learn from the institutions who are most successful with adult learners can go a long way in helping u s improve all of our institutions for non-traditional students.
By, Amy D. Johnson, Ed.D.