Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 Review of the literature
 Design of the study
 Results and analysis of questionnaire...
 Summary, conclusions and general...
 Biographical sketch

Title: Student services for adults in southeastern community and junior colleges
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099084/00001
 Material Information
Title: Student services for adults in southeastern community and junior colleges perceptions of chief student affairs officers
Physical Description: x, 112 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Kennedy, William Cottrell, 1946-
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1982
Copyright Date: 1982
Subject: Counseling in adult education -- Southern States   ( lcsh )
Student affairs administrators -- Attitudes   ( lcsh )
Counselor Education thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Counselor Education -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1982.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 105-110.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by William Cottrell Kennedy II.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00099084
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000334702
oclc - 09483208
notis - ABW4345


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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    List of Tables
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Review of the literature
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Design of the study
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    Results and analysis of questionnaire and interview responses
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
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        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
    Summary, conclusions and general observations, recommendations
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
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        Page 91
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        Page 93
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        Page 100
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        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
    Biographical sketch
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
Full Text






Dedicated to



There are many people who have contributed to the success of this

dissertation. Dr. Janet Larsen, the chairperson of my doctoral com-

mittee, has provided immeasurable intellectual and moral support

throughout this project. Dr. Phyllis Meek and Dr. James Wattenbarger,

the other members of my committee, have also provided encouragement

and guidance in this endeavor. I am deeply appreciative of all these


Special thanks are extended to Dr. Robert 0. Stripling for the

confidence and encouragement he provided in the early going. I also

want to thank Dr. Tom Goodale for his guidance and inspiration. And,

of course, I am grateful for the help and leadership provided by the

faculty in the Counselor Education Department.

At Lake-Sumter Community College, the support, guidance, and

encouragement have been instrumental in helping me achieve my goals.

My thanks go to Dr. Paul Williams, the now retired President of Lake-

Sumter, for allowing me a year's professional leave to continue my

education; to Dr. Dixie Jean Allen, Dean of Student Services, for her

patience, understanding, guidance and encouragement; to Dr. Evelyn

"Sis" Sebree, for her empathy and inspiration; and to Marylyn Leavitt

who spent many hours not only typing, but also moving me to continued


A heartfelt thank you is extended to C. Edward and Anna Rae

Straight, the best parents-in-law I could have. I am particularly

grateful to my parents, William and Rhoda Kennedy, for the way they

reared me--with a lot of love, affection, and encouragement to do the

things I wanted. Most especially, my deepest gratitude goes to my

family Sue, Christine, and Hilary. Their patience, confidence,

encouragement, support and love have been unshakable during this

process. Without them, this project probably would not have come to




ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . 11i

LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . . . vii

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . .. ... . . . viii


I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . ... . 1

Historical Overview . . . . . .... .. .. 2
The Problem . . . . . . . . . . 5
The Purpose . . . . . . .. .. . 8
Definition of Terms . . . . . . .... .11
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . 12

II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE . . . . . .... .13

The Students . . . . . . . .... . 13
The Institution .................. 19
Recommendations for Resolution . . . .... .27
Summary . . . . . . . .. . . .32

III. DESIGN OF THE STUDY . . . . . . .... 34

Methodology and Procedures . . . . .... .34
Population of the Study . . . . . . .. 35
Description of the Instrument . . . . . 36
Data Collection . . . . . . . ... .38
Treatment of the Data . . . . . .... .39
Summary . . . . . . . . 39

INTERVIEW RESPONSES . . . . .. .. .. . 40

Data Collection Process . .. .. . . . . 40
Questionnaire Results, Analysis, and Discussion . 43
Interview Results and Discussion . . . . .. 53
Application of the Data to the Research Questions 70
Summary . . . . . . . . ... 76


RECOMMENDATIONS . . . . . . . . .. 78

Summary . . . . . . . .... ..... 78
Major Findings . . . . . . . .... .81
Conclusions and General Observations . . ... 82
Recommendations . . . . . . . .... 86


A. THE QUESTIONNAIRE . . . . . . ... 89

B. THE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS . . . . . .... .91




LIST OF REFERENCES . . . . . . . .. .. . .105

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . .. .. . 111



1. Enrollment Data by Head Count of Full-time and
Part-time, Male and Female Students in 18
Southeastern Community Colleges . . . ... 44

2. Percentage of Services Offered Adults in 18
Southeastern Community Colleges . . . ... 47

3. Weighted Mean and Rank Order of the Effectiveness
of the Service Categories as Perceived by Student
Personnel Administrators in 18 Southeastern
Community Colleges . . . . . . . . 49

4. Ranking and Assigned Weights of Student Service
Categories in 18 Southeastern Community Colleges .. 52

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



William Cottrell Kennedy II

August 1982

Chairman: Janet J. Larsen
Major Department: Counselor Education

The purpose of this research was to identify and to describe

examples of student services programs which were designed to serve the

special needs of older (24 years and older) students by community and

junior colleges. The data were collected from a questionnaire and

interview with the chief student personnel administrator at each of 18

community and junior colleges in the Southeastern United States.

Based on a review of the literature, five categories of student ser-

vices were selected for study. These categories included admissions,

counseling, financial aid, career planning and placement, and support


The questionnaire and interview items were developed from ques-

tionnaires and information found in the literature concerning adults

and higher education.

An analysis of the data revealed the following facts.

1. One half of the student personnel administrators surveyed

were unable to supply enrollment data by full-time or part-time, male

or female students.

2. Services were not offered adults in all five of the cate-

gories studied.

3. Of those services offered most often, counseling and

financial aid services received the greatest amount of institutional

support and emphasis for serving adult learners. Career planning and

support services received the least amount.

4. When addressing the needs of older students, as identified in

the literature, community and junior college student services

divisions have, on the average, made some attempt to meet those needs.

None of them is attempting to meet all of their needs.

5. The chief student personnel officer of each institution per-

ceived the services being offered adults as effective in meeting

adults' needs.

6. None of the student personnel administrators could supply

institutional research data confirming their positive perceptions of

the impact services had had on increased enrollment and retention of

older students.

7. Community and junior colleges generally did not officially

differentiate between their traditional and non-traditional students,

although the student services staffs normally did. Colleges which do

not differentiate are less likely to have special services for older


8. Institutions in this study are not making adequate attempts

to meet the non-academic needs of older students in all the service

categories studied. Therefore, many of the needs for services held by

lifelong learners are not being met by many community and junior

college student services divisions.


The establishment of a system of community and junior colleges

provides an educational opportunity for people to whom further edu-

cation would have otherwise been unavailable. Though serving the

traditional college-bound youth, these institutions also provide post-

secondary education to students of all ages with a variety of interests,

aptitudes, family backgrounds, academic skills and cultural patterns.

Some are intellectually and emotionally well-prepared for formal edu-

cational experiences while others are not (Higgins & Thurston, 1966).

Because of the existence of highly diverse groups of individuals,

of various ages, the services provided by community colleges should be

based on a continuous, systematic method of research concerning the

characteristics and needs of their students. Armed with the knowledge

gained from these investigations, each college can better plan and

provide for more adequate and relevant services, the goal of which

should be to assist each student in developing every aspect of his or

her learning needs.

The review of the literature generally supports two theoretical

points of view concerning adult learners. One of these is a

humanistic theory which declares that adults have a natural tendency

to learn and that they will do so if encouraged. Humanists believe

Throughout the text, the term "community collegess" should be
understood to include both community and junior colleges.

that adult learners should be provided with several options of people,

resources and materials from which to learn without passing judgment

on the nature or the quality of the experience. Adults need help in

thinking through what they want to learn and how they want to learn it

(Cross, 1981).

The second is a developmental theory which essentially states

that people learn because of changes or crises in their lives which

create challenges and stimulation. This learning is, in fact,

developmental (Cross, 1981). Adults facing developmental tasks often

need assistance in clarifying their situations and identifying ways of

dealing with them.

The non-instructional student services provided adult con-

stituents of the community college should facilitate access to the

learning resources of the institution, provide information about them-

selves (e.g., strengths and weaknesses), and provide counseling and

referral for help in overcoming anxieties, finding direction, making

decisions, choosing a career, and so forth (Cross, 1979). Williamson

views student

services in education as complementary to that of the classroom
teachers--insofar as the student's intellectual development is
concerned. With respect to other areas of his development, we
are the principle educators. (1961, pp. 18-19)

Historical Overview

The community/junior college movement originated in the middle of

the nineteenth century in an unsuccessful attempt to extend the high

school years to six, eliminating the need for the freshman and sopho-

more years at the university level. Henry Tappan, President of the

University of Michigan, and William Watts Folwell, President of the

University of Minnesota, were its principle advocates (Thornton, 1972).

In 1892, however, the President of the University of Chicago, William

Raney Harper, effectively separated the first two years (establishing

the academic--later junior--college) from the second two years (estab-

lishing the University--later senior--college). The former was

designed to augment the four-year high school curriculum with two more

years of secondary work, and, in 1900, the University began awarding

the Associate of Arts degree to all those who completed the junior

college program. The movement was supported on the West Coast

primarily by David S. Jordan of Stanford University and Alexis Lange

of the University of California (Thornton, 1972).

Four central influences encouraged the development of the idea.

These included the rapid growth of the universities and their tendency

toward large classes, the desire of the normal schools to offer col-

legiate subjects, the inability of several small colleges to provide

academic quality in a four-year degree program, and the addition of

two years to the high school curriculum to add a new dimension to

public education (Thornton, 1972).

The American Association of Junior Colleges in 1922 designated

the junior college as any institution offering the first two years of

strictly collegiate instruction. The curriculum was later expanded to

include vocational courses, and terminal degrees began receiving as

much emphasis as transfer degrees, with an attempt to meet the general

education needs of members of the local community (Thornton, 1972).

In 1930, Nicholas Ricciardi wrote that

A fully organized junior college aims to meet the needs of a com-
munity in which it is located, including preparation for

institutions of higher learning, liberal arts education for those
who are not going beyond graduation from the junior college,
vocational training for particular occupations usually designated
as semi-professional vocations, and short courses for adults with
special interest. (Cited in Thornton, 1972, p. 55)

The trend toward a comprehensive two-year college program to pro-

vide something for everyone was begun. In 1936, Byron S. Hollinshead


That the junior college should be a community college, meeting
community needs; that it should serve to promote a greater social
and civic intelligence in the community; that it should provide
opportunities for increased adult education; that it should pro-
vide educational, recreational, and vocational opportunities for
young people; that the cultural facilities of the institution
should be placed at the disposal of the community; and that the
work of the community college should be closely integrated with
the work of the high schools and the work of other community
institutions. (Cited in Thornton, 1972, p. 55)

America's involvement in World War II created a decline in

enrollments for the junior colleges' regular programs. To compensate,

community action programs were designed to offer war-time alternatives

for those not overseas. Heightened interest in the world and its

social and political varieties and the desire for opportunities to

learn, or improve upon, occupational knowledge were satisfied through

the curricula of the junior colleges. Adults, who were not histori-

cally considered college material, turned to the junior college for

educational and cultural activities. After the war, these oppor-

tunities continued and the community/junior college idea was developed

(Thornton, 1972; Medsker & Tillery, 1971).

The skilled manpower needs required by technological advancements

necessitated the continuous revision and expansion of the community

college curriculum between 1958 and the decade of the 1960s (Medsker &

Tillery, 1971). This period saw an increase not only in the number of

students who were products of the post-war "baby-boom," but also in

the number of older (over 25 years) persons who were not traditionally

perceived as college students. The predictions of future enrollments

in higher education indicate increasing numbers of adults and

decreasing numbers of 18 to 21 year old students (Levitz & Noel,


The Problem

The complexion of the community college student body has been

steadily changing in recent years, and promises to continue to change

in the future. Between 1972 and 1977, the proportion of students over

the age of 25 increased from 28 percent to 33 percent, while that of

students less than 24 decreased from 71 percent to 67 percent, a trend

which is expected to continue (Levitz & Noel, 1980). In light of the

apparent pending decline in traditional college enrollments, many

postsecondary educational institutions have begun to reexamine what

they have traditionally provided for their students and are attempting

to meet the needs of the emerging older student body (Levitz & Noel,


What is being discovered about this new clientele is that there

are three general problems of access for adult learners (Cross, 1978).

The first is that, because of jobs and other adult responsibilities, a

full-time commitment to learning is inappropriate. Second, the

variety of experiences which adults have attained are greater and more

diverse than those of younger people--a special consideration for

which granting credit and class placement must be given. Finally, the

adult's orientation to formal learning will have need for adjustment

because of the numbers of years most of them have been out of school.

Evolving is a society of learners with a wide variety of unique

needs and interests on one hand, and an assortment of learning

resources to which they can turn to fulfill those needs and interests

on the other. For this learning society to prosper, each post-

secondary educational institution, especially the community college,

must rearrange its priorities so that it puts

the student first and the institution second, concentrates more
on the former's need than the latter's convenience, encourages
diversity of individual opportunity rather than uniform pre-
scription, and deemphasizes time, space, and even course require-
ments in favor of competence and, where applicable, performance.
It has concern for the learner of any age and circumstance, for
the degree aspirant as well as the person who finds sufficient
reward in enriching life through constant, periodic, or
occasional study. (Commission on Non-Traditional Study, 1973,
p. xv)

The American College Testing Program (ACT) study on Attracting

and Retaining Adult Learners, ARAL (Levitz & Noel, 1980), has identi-

fied institutions and programs which are attempting to meet this

directive. Though their survey included community and junior

colleges, the majority of the responses came from public and private

four-year institutions. Likewise, a review of the literature has

shown that the needs of older students have been generally identified.

Because of relatively high levels of anxiety, low academic self-

concept, familial misunderstandings, and general problems of adjust-

ment to a new and demanding lifestyle, there is a need for personal

counseling (Levitz & Noel, 1980; Rawlins, 1979; Bulpitt, 1973).

Many of the older students enroll in college with little or no

idea of any goals other than to learn something new and/or to prepare

for a new career. Often there is a lack of understanding of the

educational requirements to enter a career field once it has been

identified. To help these individuals there is a need for adequate

educational and career counseling and placement (Cross, 1978; Dewey,

1980; Goodman, 1981; Levine, 1978).

College costs place an additional financial burden on most people

who attend. For older students with family responsibilities,

especially those who take part-time jobs to attend classes full time,

going to school represents a loss of income.

The same is true for those on fixed incomes, primarily senior

citizens. Therefore, there is a need for financial aid among older

adult students (Cross, 1980; Cross & Zussman, 1974; Malin, Bray,

Dougherty, & Skinner, 1980).

Adult students frequently require special considerations for

recruitment and have special needs for admissions (Brodzinski, 1980;

Cross & Zussman, 1974; Rawlins, 1979). Evening students cannot always

take time from their jobs to make applications or receive academic

advisement or register for classes. Offering these services in the

evenings or in off-campus locations gives adult students alternative

opportunities for enrollment.

Finally, there are needs which must be addressed after students

are in classes. The need for such benefits as tutorial services,

learning skills (math, reading, study skills) assistance, peer

support, and child care exist because older students, many of whom

have responsibility for children, have been away from formal education

for varying periods of time. Special student support services can

help them renew their learning skills, while offering the opportunity

to have children cared for while parents are in class (Cross &

Zussman, 1974; Kasworm, 1980; Levitz & Noel, 1980).

Research studies have identified the needs of adult students, the

adequate institutional response to which could attract nearly 40

million more students (Levitz & Noel, 1980). The problem, therefore,

is to identify how community colleges are attempting to meet those


The Purpose

Statement of the Purpose

The purpose of this research was to identify and to describe

examples of student services programs which were designed to serve the

special needs of older students by community college student affairs

offices. Eighteen community and junior colleges in Alabama, Florida,

Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South

Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia were randomly selected for

the study. By identifying older students' needs through a review of

the literature, and based on the response to a preliminary survey of

student affairs practitioners, the functions of admissions, coun-

seling, financial aid, career planning and placement, and student

support services were studied as the areas most likely to fulfill

those needs.

To accomplish this purpose, the following questions were investi-

gated through the use of a questionnaire and personal interviews.

1. Which of the five services being investigated are provided

for adult students in a way which is different from the more

traditional applications?

2. Which services receive the greatest emphasis for non-

traditional students?

3. Are the student services which are offered addressing the

needs of adults as identified in the literature?

4. As perceived by the chief student personnel officers, are the

services offered effective in providing for the special needs of adult


5. Do community and junior colleges differentiate between

traditional and non-traditional students by definition?

6. Have the services offered adult students contributed to the

increased enrollment or retention of adult students?

Delimitations and Limitations

In conducting this research, the following confinements and

weaknesses were observed.

1. Because some state two-year colleges include the word

"technical" in their titles while excluding "community" or "junior,"

and to avoid including a college more technically than academically

oriented, the population of the study was confined to institutions

whose name reflected "community college" or "junior college."

2. Because the preeminent method for gathering information about

the services offered was the telephone interview, and because of the

expense and impracticality of interviewing all the community and

junior colleges in 11 states, the population for this study included a

10 percent random sample of community and junior colleges in each of

those states.

3. Because the sample size was limited, generalizations about

the extent of services offered in other institutions must be made


4. Due to the continuing increase of adult students in community

colleges and the recent concern for lifelong learning, the review of

the literature, with the exception of a few basic references, centered

on materials and research published since 1970.


The term "androgogy" means helping adults to learn, and it is

based on four assumptions concerning adult learners. These

assumptions include (a) the inclination of adults to be independent

and self-directed, (b) the accumulation of experiences which serve as

resources for learning, (c) a readiness to learn which is oriented to

developmental tasks, and (d) shifts in perspective from "postponed

application of knowledge to immediacy of application," and in learning

orientation from "subject-centeredness to problem-centeredness"

(Cross, 1981, p. 223). These assumptions appear to encompass both the

humanistic (assumptions a and b) and the developmental (assumptions c

and d) theories mentioned above. Regardless of the theoretical

orientation one might espouse, adults have needs for both instruc-

tional and non-instructional services which will help them to either

fulfill their natural tendency to learn or to meet their developmental


Definition of Terms

Throughout this paper, subject-specific terms are defined as


Adult learners (or students). One would not be incorrect in

counting all college students 18 years of age or older as adults.

"Adult" has been defined by some institutions as those students over

21 years of age; by others as those with adult responsibilities or

commitments and those employed full time; and still others as those

who have had a significant break in time between educational experi-

ences (Levitz & Noel, 1980). For the purposes of this study, however,

the adult learner is defined as one who has reached the age of 24


Lifelong education. Lifelong education consists of planned

experiences (formal and informal) from which an individual learns.

These experiences, as used herein, are those offered by an institution

of higher education.

Lifelong learning. Learning occurs from birth to death and is,

therefore, lifelong.

Traditional students. College students historically have been

perceived as ranging in age from 18 to 23 years and of entering

college from preparatory programs in the secondary school. They also

usually come from middle- to upper-class families. Those who enter

college with these characteristics are, therefore, traditional.

Non-traditional students. Any students not of the traditional

type are non-traditional. These include students who are 24 years of

age or older, who have weak academic experiences, who are often from

lower socioeconomic families, and who are not necessarily into

education for the purpose of earning a degree.

Student services. When not specified, student services include

the full range of non-academic services provided, i.e., counseling,

admissions, financial aid, student government, registration, student

activities, orientation, career planning, testing and evaluation,

placement, job placement, and academic advisement (Monroe, 1972).

Because of the trend for students of community colleges to be

more non-traditional, it seems only proper that the student services

provided by these colleges be evaluated and adjusted to meet the needs

and the interests of their new clientele. The literature includes

ample information concerning the needs of adult students and recom-

mendations for what community colleges should be doing for the adult

learner. However, it is devoid of comprehensive information about

what community and junior colleges are in fact doing for the adult

learner. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to discover what

services are being rendered and how well they are perceived to accom-

plish their goals. An account of these services will also be


Chapter II will present a review of the literature related to

community and junior colleges, student personnel services and adult

learners, and the relationship of each to the other. It will identify

the needs of adult students, the services traditionally available to

all students, and the apparent inability of those services to meet the

needs of the lifelong learner.


The Students

Probably the most common assumption concerning formal education

is that it includes attendance in kindergarten through 12th grades

(K-12) with perhaps some college included for the more intellectually

elite. The truth is, however, that discussion has recently centered

around the realization that, unless people vegetate, they will con-

tinue to learn throughout their lifetime (Cross, 1978). Many are

involved in learning which is informal and self-directed, while others

are engaged in one or more activities of organized instruction.

Developmentalists would contend that people progress through an adult

life cycle during which they must cope with developmental tasks as

they present themselves, i.e., leaving home, getting married, rearing

children, establishing or changing careers, losing a spouse, and

retiring (Gould, 1975; Levinson, 1978; Sheehy, 1976). As these

transitions occur, they cause a rethinking and restructuring of one's

life in "an attempt to grasp confusion, frequently accompanied with

considerable struggle, pain, anxiety or stress, [which] often prompts

courageous risk-taking as the person reaches toward a new perspective"

(Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, 1980, p. 27).

This perspective is frequently found by enrolling in various forms of

educational activities (FIPSE, 1980).

This trend has led to the formulation of such terminology as

"lifelong learner," "lifelong education," and "learning society"

(Cross, 1978). Support for this movement is presented in the Levitz

and Noel study on Attracting and Retaining Adult Learners, ARAL

(1980), in which they have reported that the percentage of college

enrollment for men aged 25 to 34 increased from 11 percent in 1959 to

17 percent in 1978. For women of the same age range, the percentages

were 2 and 14 in 1959 and 1978 respectively. They also quote pre-

dictions for the next decade (1980-1990) which reveal that attendance

by those aged 25 to 34 will increase by 13 percent, those 35 to 44

will increase by 39 percent, and those 45 to 54 will increase by 12

percent. Conversely, those enrollees aged 18 to 24 years will decline

by 15 percent.

This influx of older students has created difficulties in

defining the adult student. The ARAL study (Levitz & Noel, 1980)

indicated that there is no set definition, that institutions will

define adults according to their (the institutions') particular needs.

Eldred and Marienau (1979) reported definitions by age range from

"under twenty" (at Kansas State University, Louisiana State Univer-

sity, and Flaming Rainbow University in Talequah, Oklahoma) to those

at least 23 (at Trinity College and Drew University). Some programs

use credits earned or years worked as criteria for classification as

an adult. Community and junior colleges are most likely to set the

lower limits of "adulthood" at age 18. Cross (1981) defines the non-

traditional adult student as a part-time learner with full-time adult


Characteristically, many members of this learning society are

predominantly privileged, middle- and upper-class Caucasians who are

already well-educated and who occupy white collar positions in the

work force (Cross & Zussman, 1974; Eldred & Marienau, 1979). They are

students who

view themselves as self-directing individuals, capable of making
decisions about their education and accepting the consequences of
their actions. They are able to engage in self-diagnosis of
their educational needs based on their perceived match of past
experience and future goals. They prefer action-oriented
learning techniques to achieve that match. (Eldred & Marienau,
1979, p. 10)

Their decision to attend college is often influenced by the promise of

social status and economic gain, and as an opportunity to change

and/or express their present interests (Eldred & Marienau, 1979).

On the other hand, entering higher education in greater numbers,

especially in community and junior colleges, are minority adults and

senior citizens, many of whom have part-time jobs, low income and very

little educational attainment (Cross, 1978). On the average, they

suffer with a weak self-concept and little confidence in their

academic ability (Bulpitt, 1973). Cross (1978) says that these under-

represented would-be learners are interested in career and educational

counseling but have little information about these services and educa-

tional opportunities. Furthermore, many of them are job-oriented with

interest in degrees and certificates which are salable in the world of

work, yet they perceive the cost of attaining a degree or certificate

as a barrier.

Many undergraduates over 30 years of age face both physical and

psychological barriers to their participation in a formal learning

experience in an institution of postsecondary education. There are

fears of being too conspicuous and of being rejected because of the

difference in age between them and the traditional students on campus.

There is also anxiety concerning their ability to communicate at an

appropriate level (Rawlins, 1979). These individuals frequently lack

self-confidence in their ability to successfully compete with younger

students with more recent formal educational experiences (Heffernan,

Macy, & Vickers, 1976). In 1972, the Educational Testing Service

(ETS) found that approximately 26 million adults did not participate

for reasons which could have been remedied through adequate counseling

(Heffernan et al., 1976).

Remembering that adult learners can be defined as those learners

with adult responsibilities (Cross, 1980), other barriers become evi-

dent. Levitz and Noel (1980) report conflicts between job responsi-

bilities and class scheduling in which participation in one often

prohibits participation in the other; conflict with home and family

life where there may be a lack of understanding of the learner's moti-

vation to return to school and a lack of support for the venture; con-

flict with child-care obligations and the lack of child-care services

which could relieve a parent of such obligations long enough to attend


Malin, Bray, Dougherty and Skinner (1980) studied factors which

affect the performance and satisfaction of adult college students and

found that men have more difficulty adjusting to college than do

women. On the average they have lower grade point averages (GPAs);

they enjoy less positive intellectual and personal achievement; and

they have more family complaints about the amount of money spent on

college. Most men place greater emphasis on job roles than on

intellectual goals.

Finally, for adults to return to formal education they often must

experience a reduced level of income because of the necessity to

change from full time to part time employment in order to attend

classes, or because payment for tuition takes funds away from other

personal expenditures. This fact has its own problems which can com-

pound the other problems already discussed (Cross, 1981; Malin et al.,


Levine (1978), in his Handbook of Undergraduate Curriculum, lists

12 most common reasons for students "stopping out" (leaving school

then returning after an unpredetermined period of time). The list

contains reasons which summarize the barriers faced by adult learners

and reveals commonalities between traditional and non-traditional

students. Among these barriers are personal circumstances, medical or

health problems, financial difficulties and poor academic performances.

It has been estimated that 40 million adults would return to

classroom study if institutions were more responsive to their personal

and educational needs (Levitz & Noel, 1980). Because of these varying

needs (which can cause difficulties for traditional as well as non-

traditional students), institutions must offer opportunities and

services devoted to this new clientele (Cross & Zussman, 1974).

Included among these could be such services as an adult-centered

orientation (to include spouses), financial aid considerations (there

is little financial aid for students taking less than a half-time

class load), child-care services, separate counseling and advising

services, the business office and computer terminals. Institutions

need to facilitate the initial enrollment process for adults, make

special efforts to interpret the curriculum, to evaluate past academic

experiences, to plan a program of study, and to deal with reentry

concerns and obstacles (Cross & Zussman, 1974; Rawlins, 1979).

Although one study of 256 full- and part-time, traditional and

non-traditional students attending a California community college

showed no significant difference in the counseling needs of these two

groups of students (Ancheta, 1980), others have found that adults

place more emphasis on their needs for personal growth and development

and their learning experiences, and less on social involvement and

companionship than do the more traditional students (Dewey, 1980;

Goodman, 1981). The need for counseling services directly applicable

toward adult students with their particular needs is implied in these


Because the non-traditional students are, in most cases, both

physically and emotionally different from younger students, several

student services traditionally found on many campuses have been deemed

inappropriate (Brodzinski, 1980). These include

1. adolescent social programs;

2. counseling geared toward the developmental needs of 18 to
21 year olds;

3. midday activities on weekdays;

4. admissions procedures requiring recommendations from high
school teachers;

5. correspondence addressed "dear parent";

6. high caloried adolescent food in the cafeteria;

7. job placement which focuses on entry level positions;

8. orientations which focus on adapting to college and making
decisions for the first time;

9. schedules and programs for students with more flexible time

10. inappropriate use of fees;

11. closing offices at 5:30 p.m. (Brodzinski, 1980, p. 6)

Another study (Kasworm, 1980) compared the use of various student

services by younger (traditional) and older (non-traditional) students

at the University of Georgia. Younger students were more likely to

use such services as orientation, housing, physical health facilities,

student union activities, religious centers and academic advising.

Older students, on the other hand, were more inclined to want tutoring

services, career counseling, job placement, personal counseling and

financial aid.

The Institution

Learning cannot be confined to the limits of several years nor to

the restriction of four walls; it can occur daily throughout the span

of a lifetime and in any place. Many who want to learn something new

prefer to do so individually by reading, talking to experts in the

field, or seeking experiences for first-hand knowledge. Institutions

of higher learning are trying to "legitimize" this learning by

attracting adults to college classes, by "getting more and more

citizens to conduct their learning activities within the organiza-

tional arrangements of the formal educational system" (Ziegler, 1977,

pp. 15-16).

If postsecondary educational institutions are going to accept the
responsibility for planning and directing the learning programs
for adult learners, then they must adjust their policies and pro-
cedures to fully meet this responsibility. (Cross, 1978, p. 32)

The Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE)

sponsored four programs for adult higher education (Clark University,

Loretto Heights College, Mary Baldwin College and Vermont State

Colleges). Though each of the programs differed, four common

premises, applicable to any institution serving adults, were evident

(FIPSE, 1980):

1. The decision to return to school is a major step in an
adult's life. The daily lives of adults are complex, consisting
of many demanding responsibilities; the additional burden of
study cannot be lightly assumed.

2. Adults often seek more from their return to education than
further accumulation of knowledge or technical training. Quite
often, in fact, at the time of re-enrollment, they are undergoing
a major change in life perspective. Research in adulthood can
help us to understand this phenomenon and suggest constructive
ways in which to respond.

3. In order for educational programs to respond to adults'
needs, institutions must often make major changes in curriculum,
teaching methodologies, advising, and administrative

4. In order for a responsive program for adults to flourish, a
strong institutional commitment is needed. Faculty, adminis-
tration, and staff may need to rethink their attitudes about
students, the nature of teaching and learning, and the societal
mission of teaching and learning. (p. 2)

With concern for the mature learner in higher education, insti-

tutions must reevaluate their philosophies to match, within the con-

text of education and learning, the goals of the institution with

those of their new students. In order to do this, three principles

need to be modified. These principles include program accessibility

(admissions criteria, time options for completing the degree, and

assessment of prior learning), flexibility (residency requirements,

scheduling), and synthesis (merging the theoretical and practical

nature of the curricula) (Pierce, 1979; Robbins, 1973). Programs also

need to be personalized by building on teaching and counseling

strengths and by providing institutional encouragement for students to

learn at their own pace (Robbins, 1973).

Facilitating adults should not be a new experience for community

college personnel, but to do it well requires that adequate attention

to the existence of older students be given by the institution's

administrators, and that the student services function be integrated

with the academic function pragmatically as well as philosophically.

Though achieving this requires the school to create a singular goal in

which institutional commitment is made to organize, develop and sup-

port programs which adequately serve adults, it must also balance the

integration of special adult programs into the curriculum with the

autonomy of both traditional and non-traditional programs to ensure

adults are appropriately served. Finally, programs and services must

be financially feasible, allowing the program to grow without draining

institutional resources (FIPSE, 1980).

In order to attract, serve and retain the adult learner more

adequately, institutions must recognize the restrictions and personal,

developmental, and educational needs of this clientele and adapt their

programs accordingly (Miller, 1978). The student services divisions in

at least 20 percent of higher educational institutions have begun to

question their age orientation and the relevance of their basic

philosophy and goals regarding older students (Kasworm, 1930).

Knox (1979) and Monroe (1972) list several traditional functions

for student services. These are orientation at which students receive

information concerning the campus, the curriculum, careers, and extra-

curricular activities; appraisal of attitudes, interests and

abilities; consultation involving pre-admissions counseling and

academic advisement; participation functions which govern cocurricular

activities and student government; publicity, recruitment, regis-

tration and record-keeping; services to provide financial aid and job

placement; and organizational responsibilities for articulation of

programs, in-service education, program evaluation, and its own admin-

istrative organization. Student services personnel are challenged to

create an environment for the non-traditional students which will

foster their success and development, and to keep faculty and adminis-

tration abreast of the behavioral and developmental needs of these

students (Dewey, 1980).

Community colleges are convenient! In Florida, the goal to pro-

vide post high school educational opportunities within commuting

distance of 99 percent of the population was achieved in 1972 with the

establishment of its 28th community college. Each college provides

community services, vocational education opportunities, and general

academic education (Wygal, 1980). Because they are relatively close

to so many in the state, they are more likely to serve blue collar

workers, the educationally disadvantaged who are in school for job

training, and the senior citizens pursuing lifelong learning because

these are the people most likely to prefer locations near home or work

(Levine, 1978; Murphy, 1980).

So little of the literature written about adult programs includes

examples of what institutions are currently doing. One such study,

however, questioned the services provided older students in Florida

community colleges (Fauquet, 1977). The findings indicated that only

50 percent of the colleges had made any attempt at reconciling

accessibility for adults in the admissions and registration function.

Credit for past experiences was usually evaluated only by the College

Level Examination Program (CLEP). Only about one-half of the colleges

offered courses and services away from campus in locations more con-

venient to students. Financial aid was usually available, including

tuition waivers for senior citizens.

It was found that, though counseling services were available,

there was little use of peers in the process, and publicity on the

availability of services was rarely directed toward adults. Food

services were available usually in the mornings and early afternoons

(rarely in the evenings). Very little of the materials covered in

orientation was designed for older students. Eleven of the schools

offered courses in life problems and needs, 18 had off-campus services

available, and only 3 had a staff especially trained and designated to

serve older students.

Several special efforts to serve adults were identified from this

study (Fauquet, 1977). These included recruitment in special places

where potential older students might be found, special women's and

mature students' programs, peer counseling and advisement, and special


Levitz and Noel (1980) found that as many as 72 percent of the

schools they surveyed had made some effort toward facilitating adults

in the areas of admissions, marketing, counseling, registration,

scheduling, financial aid, and course offerings. The least amount of

effort was in the area of special student services (adult student

center, day-care facility), faculty development, program evaluation,

and funding of new programs. They concluded that the proportion of

adult enrollment to the total enrollment will alter the institution's

perception of the essential nature of programs for adult learners.

In another study, 140 southeastern community colleges of less

than 5,000 enrollment were surveyed about the counseling services they

provided for older students (Goodman & Beard, 1976). The services

were ranked according to the emphasis placed on them for adults. The

rank order was as follows: (1) academic counseling; (2) vocational

counseling; (3) personal adjustment; (4) college transfer;

(5) financial aid; (6) testing; (7) job placement. It was concluded

that more career planning and placement and more personal counseling

were needed.

This ranking is somewhat reinforced by Wolf and Dameron (1975)

who emphasized that community college counselors spend more time in

academic counseling than in personal or social counseling. Cross

(1978) states that only 10 percent of those institutions which serve

adults provide counseling services directed toward their special

needs. She indicates that there are several ways of doing this,

"ranging from the one-on-one traditional counseling model, to group

sessions and classes on educational planning and consumer choice, to

interactive computer models" (Cross, 1978, p. 47).

Academic advising is a very important service, yet in many cases

there is little institutional agreement about who has responsibility

for advising tasks. "Institutions have not translated advising

services into clear practices and statements of policy" (Muller,

1980). Those who serve the advising function must be astute in

helping adult learners synthesize the relationship between life prob-

lems and educational problems. The skills of the advisor should

complement those of the faculty in teaching their courses, making the

instructional process more effective (Eldred & Marienau, 1979).

Part-time students are less satisfied with academic advising than

are full-time students. Part-time students have unique needs which

are often overlooked, in many cases because community college coun-

selors give only lip service to addressing those needs (Teague, 1977).

Adults expect help with planning and guiding their formal learning

(Tough, 1978). Counselors must be able to help students to (a) iden-

tify problems, needs, interests, wants or options; (b) gain self-

insight or accurate self-assessments; (c) examine a variety of

options, both self- and professionally planned; (d) set priorities and

choose a direction for learning; (e) select a general strategy and

appropriate resources; (f) perform tasks required for guiding the

learning effort through a successful completion (Tough, 1978, p. 260).

To fulfill these tasks and duties requires a staff sensitive to

the needs of adults, preferably a staff who have also taken the

emotional and intellectual risks involved with beginning or returning

to academic endeavor. Key staff members must be philosophically in

accord with the goals of any of the institution's programs which serve

adults (FIPSE, 1980). The student services staff has the responsi-

bility for the "process" of advising while adjunct members (faculty

and community resources) would have more responsibility for the

"content" (factual information) of the program.

It is important that staff members realize that it is neither

them nor the institution which needs to be accommodated, but rather

the students (Pierce, 1979). Too often are student services designed

to meet the needs of the institution rather than those of the students

served. "A people-to-people relationship built on response to real

and individual needs is the quality of service for students that the

community college is all about" (Ebersole & Hargis, 1974, p. 24).

Student services has come under criticism, much of it justi-

fiable, for its shortcomings (Monroe, 1972). As a division within the

institution, it is still not without its problems. One is that, due

to differing philosophical points of view, many faculty consider stu-

dent personnel workers as second class citizens (Blocker, 1974).

Counselors have been accused of being a crutch for weak and irre-

sponsible students, helping them to escape their academic

responsibility (Monroe, 1972).

But these are problems of a philosophical nature and may never be

satisfactorily resolved. According to several authors (Knox, 1979;

Thornton & Mitchell, 1979), three factors have contributed to a lack

of services for older students. First, quite often the administration

sees little need for providing such services. Secondly, there is a

lack of serious commitment toward the program's success. Finally,

there is a reluctance to make clear-cut role distinctions in adult

programs. What happens when adequate guidance and counseling services

are not provided is that students tend to select courses without

regard for prerequisites; they sometimes over- or under-estimate their

academic ability; they sometimes fail to take sequential courses in

progression; and they frequently remain unfamiliar with course and/or

program requirements (Thornton & Mitchell, 1979).

The major problems confronting student services include lack of

adequate communication about services available, lack of support from

other staff and trustees, difficulty in coordinating services with

outside groups, identifying the needs and interests of the clientele,

planning, administering, supervising and evaluating programs, lack of

adequate financial resources, identifying objectives, and developing

a philosophy compatible with program goals (Medsker & Tillery, 1971).

With regard to counseling the adult student, problems exist in

the lack of students' self-confidence related to their learning

ability, their unrealistic expectations of progress, their irrelevant

learning tasks, their seeking help from wrong sources or not seeking

it in time, and their lack of appropriate study habits (Knox, 1979).

Recommendations for Resolution

Cross has stated that

A Volkswagon is not a cheaper, lighter Cadilac; it is a different
car designed for different purposes. Similarly, college for the
masses is not a low-standard version of college for the elite;
it is a different kind of education with high standards true to
its own purpose. (Cited in Overly, 1979, p. 37)

Colleges in general, and student services personnel in particular,

must work toward maintaining high standards in order not to deprive

the adult students of quality education and the services to enhance

that education (Cross, 1978).

Educational brokering services, a relatively new proprietary con-

cept in services for students, provide help for their clients in

defining their educational goals through self-assessment, values

clarification and long-term planning. Through this assessment pro-

cedure, clients are better prepared to make decisions and to set

objectives for their further education, and to select methods by which

they will receive that education. Finally, the brokering service

assists students in gaining access to appropriate learning experiences

by facilitating the admissions process, financial aid applications,

recognition for prior learning, and other services in order to smooth

the transition back into formal learning (Heffernan et al., 1976).

Tough (1978) indirectly reinforces these procedures. He claims

that, in order to foster policy revision and to provide these kinds of

new services, institutions must carefully examine the services needed

and provided. The results would furnish insight into which services,

programs, and help would be most beneficial.

To meet more adequately the needs of the part-time, older stu-

dents, policies and procedures must be reexamined in terms of their

responsiveness to those needs. The areas of admissions, credit for

prior learning, career counseling and placement, personal counseling,

financial assistance, teaching methodologies and the curriculum must,

where necessary, be revised for this clientele (Watson, 1980). It is

imperative for student services to develop a responsiveness to adult

student needs. Ways of becoming responsive are by following a human

development model, examining values, goals and objectives, both col-

lectively as a staff and individually, and allowing student partici-

pation in making decisions about programs and services (Neher &

Potter, 1974; Wygal, 1980).

Pierce (1979) recommends change in the following services:

1. admissions--make special considerations where applicable; be


2. registration--eliminate as much red tape as possible; provide

a special orientation to clarify directions

3. financial aid--provide a deferred payment plan

4. class schedules and course selection--provide schedule

flexibility, location options, short-term sessions and child care

5. physical plant--improve the readability of signs, access to

parking, accessibility of buildings and grounds

6. information and assistance--provide open offices, methods for

contacting students in case of cancelled or rescheduled classes, more

telephones, bulletin boards and security personnel

In addition to the areas listed above, Thornton and Mitchell

(1979) have suggested that the needs of adult learners be further

researched, that referral services encompassing financial aid,

academic resources, social and medical facilities be identified, that

counseling be student-centered rather than institution-centered, and

that the range of available counseling activities be clarified. Like-

wise, Wygal (1980) recommends that community educational information

centers be established to provide all these services in one location.

The Florida Assembly on Policies for Lifelong Education (1980)

has made recommendations to various state and local administrative

levels to improve the quality of services for lifelong learners. To

the state legislature they recommend the appropriation of extra funds

for counseling and registration services and for adequate facilities

for providing these services. The Legislature must also support a

commitment to provide such services to assure the attainment of

necessary skills to deal with the changing society.

The Assembly recommended that the Division of Community Colleges

take the lead in developing policy for meeting the financial aid needs

and eligibility criteria for part-time students. The Division is

charged with removing barriers to access for adults into programs and


The district boards of trustees are urged to adopt policies and

procedures to foster lifelong learning. This would include the modi-

fication of, among other areas, student services and recruitment. In

the former, there must be a commitment to non-traditional financial

aid, admissions policies, registration, orientation, counseling (both

personal and career), child care and referrals. For the latter, it

includes intensive community outreach to the financially and educa-

tionally disadvantaged citizens, veterans, institutionalized clients

and others.

To the individual community colleges, the Assembly recommends

establishing policies and procedures which apply equally to all stu-

dents; developing programs and services which respond to the needs of

lifelong learners; providing enrichment opportunities, peer coun-

seling, and attitudes of acceptance for non-traditional students

(Wygal, 1980).

Recommendations have been made also from similar Assemblies in

California and in North Carolina. The California Assembly recommended

that community colleges provide support services for continuing edu-

cation students based on needs assessments; that greater consideration

be given for lifelong experiences in placement in classes and in

granting of credit; that flexibility be a keyword for providing for

the needs of adult students, i.e., outreach, class length, instruc-

tional methodologies; and staff development with emphasis on teaching

strategies for, and sensitivity toward,adult learners (Gilder, 1981).

The North Carolina Assembly recommended expanded student services

for part-time and non-credit students, increased access to federal

student aid, more off-campus delivery sites, and improved publicity

for greater understanding of what services are available (Gilder,


Summarizing the final reports of these various state assemblies

for lifelong learners, Gilder (1981a) concludes that community colleges

have the primary (though not the exclusive) responsibility for pro-

viding education for adults in local service areas. She recommends


the lifelong education mission of the community college be sup-
ported with regard to (a) internal and external constituencies;
(b) expectations of comprehensive programs and services; (c) new
learners' needs in a changing culture; (d) special student
groups; (e) staff and faculty commitment to the mission.
(Gilder, 1981, p. 4)

Cross (1978) has compiled a list of recommendations gleaned from

reports by various state and national studies which address access

issues in adult higher education. The recommendations were classified

into the major headings of information, counseling services, support

services, access and advocacy, financial aid, and credit. The

following are examples of recommendations from each area:

Information. A statewide information retrieval and coun-
seling system (should be established) for advising adult students
about the full range of postsecondary opportunities available to
them (Illinois).

Counseling services. Construct and implement a plan for
more adequate information, referral and counseling services for
the adult learners (New York).

Support services. Existing campus facilities should be
available to the part-time student, particularly in the late
afternoons, evenings, on week-ends and in the summer

Access and advocacy. Mandate public policy which enables
the state's adult learners to have the educational resources and
services of public and private postsecondary educational insti-
tutions accessible to them throughout their lifetime, and that
such access be made available without regard to race, age, sex,
or place of residence (Florida).

Financial aid. Examine present practices in administering
student financial aids and, where necessary, take steps to make
financial aid equitable for all students--full-time and part-
time, younger and older, male and female (Utah).

Credit. There should be continued experimentation with
forms of non-traditional study which minimizes the traditional
rigidities of campus life: time (prescribed years of study);
space (residence on campus); and systems of academic accounting
(credits or honor points earned) (United States). (pp. 57-79)


America is growing older. The enrollment impact of the post-

World War II baby boom on secondary and postsecondary education has

peaked and begun to decline. The traditional students (age 18-22

years) will not be as abundant in the future as they are today.

Higher educational institutions throughout the United States are now

experiencing the phenomenon of the lifelong learners, non-traditional

students whose age might be anywhere above 24 years and whose learning

goals range from personal enrichment to improving job skills to pre-

paring for a career change. Each of these learners comes to college

with a unique background and unique personal and educational needs.

Most are relatively well-educated, middle-income people. But less

well-educated, lower-income, disadvantaged people are also seeking

further education. Regardless of their socioeconomic status, many

share the same physical and psychological barriers to participation.

Because their needs usually differ from those of the younger,

traditional student, the adult learners' needs for and use of various

services will usually differ also. Adults are more likely than

younger students to use tutoring services, career counseling, job

placement, personal counseling and financial aid.

Postsecondary educational institutions have been somewhat

neglectful of the needs of lifelong learners. Each school must

reexamine its philosophy and make changes in its actions and attitudes

toward adults as students. New services must be developed and old

ones revised to match the needs and the goals of older students.

Because of their educational philosophies and accessibility, community

and junior colleges are perhaps the best suited among postsecondary

educational institutions to provide for these needs and goals.

But community and junior colleges are not altogether prepared

either. Though many have attempted to provide necessary services,

many others have not provided the accessibility to quality programs

which adults as consumers expect. Several studies of the needs of

adult learners have recommended that special efforts be made to

improve the services offered in light of these needs.

Because so little is known of the services provided especially

for adult students at community colleges, this study will examine the

institutional commitments made to adult learners by examining the

services provided by several southeastern community colleges in the

areas of admissions, counseling, financial aid, career planning and

placement, and support services. The next chapter will describe the

design of the study including its purposes and objectives.


Methodology and Procedures

This research was conducted because the literature in the fields

of older students and student services is nearly devoid of how commu-

nity colleges are attempting to meet the non-academic needs of their

older students (Cross, 1981). Furthermore, a pilot study conducted

prior to the commencement of this study indicated that student per-

sonnel practitioners in Florida recognize a need to research the

services offered older students attending community colleges, rein-

forcing the need for research in this field.

The study was designed to reveal the extent to which community

colleges in 11 southern states have taken steps toward meeting the

special needs of adult students in their respective districts. In

addition, the research was designed to evaluate the effectiveness for

adult students of the programs being offered, and the importance

placed on these services by each institution.

Based on the research reported in the literature and on a pre-

liminary survey of student personnel practitioners, the services in

question included admissions, counseling, career planning and place-

ment, financial aid, and support services.

To accomplish these objectives, a questionnaire was constructed

using as a guide two instruments from two other similar studies

(Fauquet, 1977; Levitz & Noel, 1980) which were found in a review of

the literature written between 1970 and 1981. The questionnaire was

distributed to several community college student personnel practi-

tioners for validation. Any needed revisions were made, and the ques-

tionnaire was mailed to the chief student affairs officers in randomly

selected community colleges in 11 southern states. A follow-up

mailing was made to all non-respondents three weeks later in order to

obtain the greatest possible return.

Upon return of the questionnaire, respondents or their designees

were interviewed by telephone to gain further knowledge of specific

programs. The results were tabulated, analyzed and described and

recommendations have been made on the basis of the findings. The

research is a descriptive study based on an analysis of the results of

the questionnaire and of the program descriptions gained through the

telephone interview.

Population of the Study

The population of this study included the chief student personnel

administrators, or their designees, in randomly selected community

colleges in the Southeast. As a matter of limitation, each of the

colleges surveyed was a public one accredited by the Southern Asso-

ciation of Colleges and Secondary Schools as identified by the 1980

Community, Junior, and Technical College Directory of the American

Association of Community and Junior Colleges (AACJC, 1980). To assure

that all surveyed institutions were community or junior colleges and

not simply technical colleges, institutional names had to include the

words "community" or "junior." Ten percent of the schools listed as

"community colleges" or "junior colleges" in each state were selected

as members of the population for this study. Randomness was achieved

through use of a table of random numbers. Included among the 18

colleges were 2 colleges from Alabama, 3 from Florida, 2 from Georgia,

1 from Kentucky, 2 from Mississippi, 2 from North Carolina, 1 in

Tennessee, 3 in Texas and 2 in Virginia. Because Louisiana had only

two colleges listed as "community" or "junior," a 10 percent sampling

was impractical. South Carolina was not included because none of its

two-year institutions are named "community" or "junior" colleges.

The names of the chief student affairs officers were identified

from lists of faculty and staff located in the catalogs from each

college (Career Guidance Foundation, 1979-80).

Description of the Instrument

The questionnaire used to collect part of the data for this study

was designed to provide some enrollment data and definitions of "adult

students." Also, it provided information on whether or not any of the

five areas of student services, i.e., admissions, counseling,

financial aid, career planning and placement, and support services,

were available especially for older students, how effective they were

perceived to be, and how each compares with the other in terms of the

emphasis they receive at each institution. The items used in two

questionnaires, one developed in 1980 by Randi S. Levitz and Lee Noel

of the American College Testing Program (Levitz & Noel, 1980), and the

other developed in 1977 by Tom Fauquet (Fauquet, 1977), were used as

guides in the development of this instrument. Items from these two

studies not pertinent to this study were eliminated, and additional

items were modified for the purpose of eliciting information con-

cerning the student services provided especially for the adult, non-

traditional student.

The interview questions were designed to extract further infor-

mation about the services offered as well as to learn of the problems

encountered and the benefits realized both by the institution and the

students served. The items for the interview were extrapolated from

the same two studies as was the questionnaire.

Prior to distribution, validation of the need for the survey and

of the questionnaire and interview questions to be used to gather the

data was accomplished by soliciting the opinion of several profes-

sionals in the student services field regarding the breadth of the

survey, the content of information sought, the clarity of the items,

and the ease of administration and readability of the instruments.

Further modification and revision was made to the instruments after

the comments from these professionals were received.

The instrument included a list of the five services being studied

with examples of possible services in each category for clarification.

Each category had a space to be checked "yes" or "no" indicating

whether or not the service was offered for adult students. A Likert-

type scale, from one (high) to five (low), was used for rating the

effectiveness of each service by circling the appropriate number. A

third section gave respondents an opportunity to rank the five service

categories in their order of the emphasis received at their respective

institutions. An opportunity was also provided for respondents to

include services used in their schools which they felt to be

especially effective for adult students.

Copies of each item mailed and a list of interview questions are

included in the Appendix.

Data Collection

The questionnaire in its final form was mailed on November 11,

1981, to the chief student personnel officers in 18 public community

and junior colleges throughout the South. Accompanying each survey

was a cover letter explaining the study and giving directions for the

completion of the questionnaire and its return within two weeks; a

telephone interview appointment card giving the respondent an oppor-

tunity to provide both a preferred and an alternate day and time for

submitting to an interview; a letter of endorsement from the Institute

of Higher Education at the University of Florida asking for the

cooperation of those being surveyed; and a stamped, self-addressed

envelope for respondents' convenience.

A follow-up letter was mailed on December 6, 1981, to those who

had not responded to the first mailing. This also included the ques-

tionnaire, the telephone interview appointment card, and the self-

addressed, stamped envelope.

Finally, on the days and at the times previously arranged, each

respondent was interviewed by telephone and tape recorded. Each person

was asked the same major questions concerning their institution's ser-

vices for older students, how they decided to offer them, obstacles

which had to be overcome, how services were publicized, their contri-

bution to increased enrollment and retention of older students, and

the institutional attitudes toward the older students. During each

response, however, questions were asked for purposes of clarification

and, in some instances, to encourage more detailed responses.

Treatment of the Data

The data obtained from the returned questionnaires were evaluated

in terms of descriptive statistics yielding simple frequencies, per-

centage distributions, weighted means, simple rank-ordering, and


Descriptions of specific programs, or aspects thereof, in each

category were analyzed on the basis of the data provided. Information

regarding the services--funding, personnel, support, utility, and

effectiveness--provided by the surveyed community and junior colleges

for their older students was summarized.


The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which

selected community colleges are providing services for older students

in the area of admissions, counseling, career planning and placement,

financial aid, and support services. The research was designed to

reveal the steps being taken for adult students toward meeting their

special needs in these fields, the effectiveness for adults of the

services offered, and the importance placed on these services by each

institution. A questionnaire was developed to yield information con-

cerning the availability of services, their use and their effective-

ness. The study included an initial mailing, a follow-up mailing and

telephone interview for collecting the data. Chapter IV will present

an analysis of the data collected.


This chapter is divided into five sections. The first section

includes a discussion of the data collection process. The second

section presents the responses to the questionnaire items and a dis-

cussion of the analysis of the responses. The third section of the

chapter provides a discussion of the interview responses and an

analysis of how the services offered adults are meeting the needs of

adults as identified in the literature. The fourth section will

evaluate the data in terms of answering the research questions and the

final section will provide a summary of the chapter.

Data Collection Process

The Questionnaire

After consultation with community college student personnel prac-

titioners and after making the recommended revisions, a final ques-

tionnaire was developed (see Appendix A). The questionnaire was

designed to acquire information concerning (a) whether or not a

service in each category was offered older students, (b) how effective

the services were in meeting the needs of older students, and (c) how

important each institution feels each service to be for its older

students. For item (b), a Likert-type scale from one (high) to five

(low) was used, and for (c), a rank order of the five services was

used. In addition, enrollment by head count and by male and female,

full-time and part-time adult students was also requested.

The Interview

Following essentially the same procedure for developing the ques-

tionnaire, the interview questions were designed (a) to elicit clari-

fying information concerning responses to the questionnaire, and

(b) to gain knowledge of specific services offered adult students,

including administrative details, effectiveness and institutional

attitudes (see Appendix B). The interviews were conducted by tele-

phone after the questionnaires were returned to provide a reference

for both interviewer and interviewee. The day and time for each

interview were prearranged using a telephone interview appointment card

which was returned with the questionnaire.

The Respondents

Eighteen public community colleges in Alabama, Florida, Georgia,

Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia

were chosen at random and the chief student personnel officer at each

institution was identified to be surveyed. Colleges were limited to

those named as a community or junior college which were accredited by

the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Adminis-

trators were determined from the respective college catalogs. Because

of the function of the position of the respondents, i.e., vice presi-

dents, deans, or directors of student services, it was felt that these

were the most likely people on each campus to have sufficient knowl-

edge of the five student services areas of admissions, counseling,

financial aid, career planning and placement, and support services.

In only two cases did the chief student affairs officer designate

someone else (in each case a counselor) to respond.

Collection of the Data

A questionnaire regarding student services for adult students was

mailed to each student affairs administrator with a cover letter and a

letter of endorsement for the study (see Appendix C). Also included

was a telephone interview appointment card for arranging the day and

time of interview (see Appendix D). For purposes of managing the

interview process, administrators were asked to identify themselves

and their institutions, yet anonymity was guaranteed to ensure the

confidentiality of the respondents. A follow-up mailing was made

after the deadline to encourage return of the questionnaire. All but

six responded necessitating a telephone call to obtain both ques-

tionnaire and interview responses simultaneously. Eventually, data

were collected from all 18 institutions. The data, therefore,

represent a 100 percent response rate.

The interviews were tape recorded and transcribed to facilitate

analysis of the responses. The length of the interviews ranged from

11 to 35 minutes with an average of 18.5 minutes.

Treatment of the Data

As was mentioned earlier, chief student affairs administrators

responded to both a questionnaire and an interview. An analysis of

the questionnaire revealed whether or not services for adults were

offered, how effective the services were (as perceived by the respon-

dents), and how the services ranked in importance in terms of the

emphasis placed on each service by the institutions. Enrollment data

were gathered to find the ratio of adult students enrolled to the

total number of students enrolled.

Responses to the interview items were analyzed and are described

to indicate support for and clarification of the questionnaire items,

and for identification of specific services offered for adult stu-

dents, in admissions, counseling, career planning and placement,

financial aid and support services. The responses were also analyzed

in relation to how they are meeting the needs of adult students as

identified in the review of the literature.

Questionnaire Results, Analysis, and Discussion

Enrollment Data

Enrollment by credit head count of the institutions surveyed

ranged from 652 to 8,505 with a mean size of 3,400 and a median size

of 2,220. Two thirds of the institutions enrolled less than 5,000

students in credit classes.

Of the 18 responding institutions, only nine were able to report

the division of their adult enrollment into full-time males and part-

time males, full-time females and part-time females. Of these nine,

five had more part-time adult students than full-time adult students;

seven had more part-time female students than full-time female stu-

dents; and seven had more full-time male students than part-time male

students. For the nine colleges collectively, there were on the

average more part-time students than full-time students. There were

as many males as females attending full time, but there were more

women than men attending part time. These data are presented in

Table 1. The administrators at the other nine institutions could not








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provide the information concerning the age, sex, or enrollment status

of their students.

A generalization which could be open for speculation concerns

item number six in Table 1. This institution defines adult as anyone

24 and over, and was the only one of the nine institutions tabulated

which does not use "18 and above" as its definition for adult student.

This item reveals a much smaller percentage of full-time adult stu-

dents than do the others. Though this is but one institution, it is

possible that the other colleges might show similar numbers in their

"over 24" enrollment categories. If this were the case, the impli-

cations for student services would be to address more fully the

services offered their older adult students.

One half of the 18 colleges considered all of their students over

18 years of age as adults. This corresponds with findings in the

literature (Levitz & Noel, 1980) which indicate that community and

junior colleges are inclined to define adults as anyone 18 years of

age or older. Four of the remaining nine institutions use a minimum

age for determining an adult status some age above 18. One of them

defines adult students as those over 21 years of age, another defines

them as those over 24, and two designate all students over 25 to be


The remaining five institutions claim either not to have an

official age limit or to have no definition. One definition which was

offered was that an adult is "an individual who is fully developed and

mature, who possesses certain characteristics of adulthood." Because

the vagueness of these responses tends to leave the lower age limit to

interpretation, and because the legal age of majority is generally 18,

these were treated in the analysis as having age 18 as the lower age

limit of the definition.

Remembering that for the purposes of this research an adult stu-

dent is defined as one who has reached the age of 24, the fact that

78 percent of the surveyed institutions use age 18 as a definition

might indicate that services for the non-traditional students might

not be any different on the average than the services available to

anyone else. This was not necessarily the case, however, as all

institutions did make at least some provision for their older stu-

dents. This point will be discussed in more detail in the discussion

of the interview responses.

Data on Service Availability

The data on the availability of services for adults are given in

Table 2. Respondents were asked to indicate whether or not they had

designed any new services or modified any old services in the areas of

admissions, counseling, financial aid, career planning and placement,

and student support services for their adult students. Table 2 dis-

closes the fact that in all of these student services areas, the

majority of the colleges surveyed provide at least minimum services

for adults. If this can be considered a representative sample, this

finding indicates an improvement over what has been previously

reported in the literature. Although Fauquet (1977) found only one

half of the colleges surveyed in Florida had provided for admissions

accessibility, 88.9 percent (16) of the institutions surveyed in this

study indicated having done so.

Table 2

Percentage of Services Offered Adults in
18 Southeastern Community Colleges

Service Yes No
No. % No. %

Admissions 16 88.9 2 11.1
Counseling 16 88.9 2 11.1
Career Planning and Placement 17 77.8 4 22.2
Financial Aid 13 72.2 5 27.8
Support Services 10 55.6 8 44.4

Cross (1978) stated that only 10 percent of those institutions

which serve adults provide counseling services directed toward their

special needs. The responses to the counseling item on this ques-

tionnaire indicated that almost nine times as many community and junior

colleges are now doing so.

Goodman and Beard (1976) concluded that more career planning and

placement were needed. Improvement has been made in this area also, as

14 of the 18 schools in this study claim the existence at their

institutions of these services.

Financial aid for older students has been shown in the literature

to have been one service area provided at most institutions (Goodman &

Beard, 1976; Levitz & Noel, 1980). This study reinforces this fact,

showing almost three fourths of the institutions polled providing this

service for adults. However, caution must be exercised in this

analysis because of the existence of federal financial aid programs

which are available to all need-qualified students attempting at least

a half-time course load.

Though it still reveals fewer support services being provided

than services in the other service fields, even this area is provided

by more schools than is not. This study reveals that 55.6 percent

(10) of the responding institutions offered some kind of student

support service for adult students. This supports the Levitz and Noel

(1980) study which found that the least amount of effort was made in

this area. However, with the research which has been conducted

showing the deficit of programs in this area, this finding is para-

doxical since one would think more colleges would be providing support

services for their adult students, especially in light of the "adult"

definition by a majority of the colleges in this survey.

Service Effectiveness

For each service offered, respondents were asked to rate the

effectiveness, as they perceived it, of the services provided. Using

a Likert-type scale, each service was to be rated from a high of one

to a low of five. The results were analyzed by assigning weights to

each response, then finding a weighted mean to indicate the relative

effectiveness of the services for all schools reporting. A response

of "1" was assigned a weight of five; a response of "2" was assigned a

weight of four; a "3" was assigned three; a "4" received a two; and

"5" was weighted one. Therefore, on this five point scale, the higher

the weight, the greater the perceived effectiveness. Not every col-

lege rated the effectiveness of every service category. Usually, if a

service was not offered, it was not rated. The data for the effec-

tiveness of services are presented in Table 3.

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By comparing the weighted means of each of the service cate-

gories, it can be seen that the chief student personnel officers at

each institution generally perceive the services they offer older

students to be effective in doing so. The lowest mean for any service

area was for the support services area, which had a weighted mean of

4.10. An average mean would have been a 2.50 on this particular

scale. The perceived effectiveness for adults of all service areas

varies by only .34 among the institutions offering such services. To

rank order the service areas by weighted mean would reveal counseling

to be most effective for adult students. The next most effective

would be admissions, followed by career planning and placement,

financial aid and support services as the third, fourth, and fifth

ranked services respectively. Only .11 separated the last three


Institutional Emphasis on Services for Adults

If someone were to study the relationship of administrative

emphasis for a program and the success of that program, it is likely

that one would find that the amount of time, money, personnel, or

effort an institution devotes to a particular program--or even a

philosophy behind a program--will often determine the success or

failure of that program, and sometimes whether or not the program will

even exist. When emphasis is strong, programs will be strong. When

it is weak, the programs will be weak. The responses to the ques-

tionnaire item asking respondents to rank their services in terms of

the emphasis placed on each by their respective institutions give an

indication of how successful a program in one of these service areas

might be. This is somewhat true in this study when the rank order of

the five service areas with regard to the emphasis each receives is

compared with the rank order of each area's effectiveness for adult

students. For example, counseling services are ranked first in both

emphasis received and in effectiveness, and support services are

ranked last on both accounts. The other three services areas, how-

ever, received a difference between the ranking of their effectiveness

and the ranking of the emphasis each had received. Financial aid

ranked second in emphasis and fourth in effectiveness. Admissions

ranked third in emphasis and second in effectiveness. Finally, career

planning and placement ranked fourth in emphasis and third in effec-

tiveness. The differences here could result in the dedication and

enthusiasm of the student services staff, or lack thereof, toward the

programs in these areas.

Table 4 indicates that counseling services receive the most

emphasis, while financial aid receives the next most emphasis,

admissions the third most, career planning and placement the fourth,

and support services the least. It also reveals that, when weights

are assigned each ranking (five for one, four for two, three for

three, two for four, and one for five), not much difference in

emphasis exists between counseling (number 1) and financial aid

(number 2) or between financial aid (number 2) and admissions

(number 3).

In a study by Goodman and Beard (1976), vocational counseling

(career planning) was found to rank second in emphasis among 140

southeastern community colleges, whereas in this study career planning

ranked fourth. Academic counseling and personal adjustment (both

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counseling matters) ranked first and third respectively in the Goodman

and Beard (1976) study, while counseling services ranked first in this

study. Caution must also be used here in comparing results as dif-

ferences in ranking might result from differences in sample size.

Service Descriptions

The final item on the questionnaire offered respondents an oppor-

tunity to briefly explain all or parts of any services they felt to be

especially effective for their adult students. Only six chose to give

comments to this item. Most of these comments contained only labels

rather than descriptions. Some of these included developmental

courses in math, English and reading, supplemented with a learning lab

offering help in these areas; counseling and off-campus courses (no

explanations); special services for older students returning for

formal education; daily student services newsletters; displaced home-

maker programs; and a strong evening program providing counselors who

offer assistance in all the student services areas.

As questionnaire responses, these in themselves are of little

value. Their worth lies in the opening they gave to questions in the


Interview Results and Discussion

The interview responses provided insight into the programs

offered at the various institutions around the Southeastern United

States. More is being done for older students in community and junior

colleges than a review of the literature would indicate. Some insti-

tutions are doing more than others, but all the institutions in this

study revealed they were doing at least something for their older

clientele. In fact, the one student personnel administrator who

claimed on the questionnaire not to be offering any of these services

especially for adult students, realized during the interview that

there were several services being provided at his institution for

these students. This was often the case in identifying other programs

at other schools, though generally student services were offered at

the same level and with the same emphasis for all students, regardless

of age.

Responses to Interview Questions

Are the services offered by your institution available to both

day and evening students at the same level and with the same emphasis?

This question was posed in this manner because more often than not the

majority of evening students are older, part-time (non-traditional)

students. If services are available to both groups in the same way,

then it could generally be concluded that services for non-traditional

students are being provided. As can be seen from an analysis of the

interview responses to this question, availability varies from insti-

tution to institution, but some services are usually accessible to


Two respondents answered unequivocally that services for evening

students were the same as for day students. The remainder, however,

answered with a qualified no. In almost all cases, lack of funding

and personnel prevented the same services offered during the day from

carrying over into the evening hours. Most of the institutions main-

tained a reduced staff in the evenings. The staff ranged from one

person (counselor, registrar, financial aid staff member, or

secretary, who served more or less as an information giver and

referral source) to having the counseling office, the admissions and

records office and a nursing office open until late evening, providing

the range of services usually offered by these offices.

The remaining institutions provided services on an appointment

basis. For example, if a potential student should want to talk with

an admissions officer or a counselor, the appropriate staff member

would make an appointment and stay to meet with that person. The same

held true for other student services offices.

One institution maintained its career planning center both day

and night. This center provided all the career development services

to evening as well as day students. During evening hours, it also

provided admissions information, financial aid information, academic

advisement, and information of a general nature which might come from

any other student services office during the day. Another institution

kept evening hours in admissions, counseling and child care. The

admissions office provided an early registration for evening students,

while counseling provided academic advisement and testing at night.

The reason given by one dean for not having the same services at

night as during the day was that "since most of our evening students

would be adults or people coming back to school with pretty clear-cut

idea of what they want todo and what their objectives are, Ithink there

is a whole lot less need for perhaps counseling, and they certainly

are not interested in extra class activities." This view contradicts

the need adult students have for counseling and career planning

identified in the literature (Cross & Zussman, 1974; Kasworm, 1980;

Rawlins, 1979). The following are examples of answers to this

question in the interview.

Sample responses. We don't have as heavy a staff on at night as
we do during the day, but we have our Career Planning Center open
day and night. If a student comes in at night and wants
admissions information, financial aid information, or what have
you, he can get it through the Career Planning Center.

I think we probably have the same kind of problem that other
institutions have, and that would be finances. We have a full-
time counselor, administrator, and two secretaries in the
evening, but nothing like what we have available in the daytime.

Summary. More adult students attend classes during evening hours

than during the day. Some institutions are providing some services

equally to both day and evening students. Most services, if offered

at all, are drastically reduced at night. Therefore, many adult stu-

dents at many colleges are not being served as well as they perhaps

could be.

Have any new services or programs been developed, or have old

services or programs been modified which speak directly to the special

needs of older students? None of the 18 colleges were doing anything

for adults in all five classifications which differed from what they

were doing for younger students. All of them, however, were providing

for their older students in at least one category.

The area of concentration offered most was in programs designed

for groups of older students, particularly women. These were provided

by eight colleges. Most of these programs were designed to offer

returning students the opportunity to get together with others (peers)

in their same situation for support purposes. The problems common to

most older students, especially after they have decided to return to

formal schooling, include anxiety, lack of academic self-confidence,

and poor study habits. These problems have usually been the ones

addressed in these groups. These kinds of groups were found to exist

in many of the institutions surveyed in the Fauquet (1977) study.

One such group was called the "Second Wind Group" designed and

promoted as a club for students aged 25 and older. Aside from pro-

viding social opportunities, it offered peer support for those who

were hesitant about returning to school because of the competition

with younger students in the classroom, because they are somewhat test

anxious, because they lack confidence in their ability to make good

grades, and because they are feeling some guilt about spending more

time with their studies than with their housework or families.

The same institution had a program for "displaced homemakers."

This group provided for some of the needs (counseling, tutorial, peer

support) of the divorced or widowed women on campus.

Another campus provided a similar group for older women called

"Women on the Way" (WOW). This group also operated as a club for

women who, because their children were in school, decided to return to

school themselves. It also served women who had divorced or otherwise

lost their husbands and were returning to learn to make a living. The

group received no formal financial support from the college, but was

supported with contributions and fund raising activities.

The second most offered programs were in the area of career

planning and placement. Many older students are interested in career

counseling for help in defining career goals and opportunities (Cross,

1978). One institution, through financial assistance from the Compre-

hensive Education and Training Act (CETA), developed a Career Develop-

ment Center. The program was designed primarily to assist the

disadvantaged members of the community and displaced homemakers in

identifying interests, abilities, career options and vocational and

educational goals. In addition, as part of the self-assessment

portion of the program, participants had the opportunity to clarify

their values and to explore themselves in terms of their wants, needs,

ideas, beliefs and feelings. The center is staffed with two pro-

fessional counselors and a secretary, and is so popular, appointments

must be made two weeks in advance. Although it was planned for adults

on campus and in the community, all students have become aware of this

program, and it now serves students of all ages.

Another college has a similar program which basically attracts

adults from the community. The Career Center facilitates the

admissions and financial aid application process, provides career

counseling, and opportunities for job placement. These people are

placed into a group called a "Second-Time-Around Group." The group

receives peer support from students who have been on campus at least

a year. The process aids in career and educational goal identifi-

cation and helps students plan their academic programs to meet those

goals. The idea is to mainstream as many of these students as

possible in the least amount of time.

A third service emphasized by several colleges was in financial

aid. Because attending college represents a potential loss of income

for many older people (Cross, 1974; Rawlins, 1979), they hesitate in

making the decision to enroll. Two states--Florida and Tennessee--

have laws which provide tuition waivers for senior citizens (citizens

over age 62). These are available on a space-available basis only

after the regular registration period is over, and paying students

have had the first opportunity for the courses. These laws have pro-

vided an incentive for those on a fixed income to participate in a

formal learning experience.

Two other schools have designed special scholarship programs for

older students. Most of these programs are supported by special

interest groups and service organizations in the surrounding commu-

nities. One college has provided a "Second Career Scholarship" which

pays tuition for students who have been out of high school for five

years or more. Its purpose is to provide incentive for students to

return to formal education.

All of the institutions offer the full range of federal aid pro-

grams. Students, of course, must meet the appropriate requirements.

Other new or modified services designed for adults at various

community colleges included developmental or guided studies programs.

These programs essentially consist of orientation courses which

support older newcomers through the transition back to the status of

student. Still other guided studies programs have provided

remediation for students whose academic qualifications require it, and

emotional support for those whose self-esteem and confidence require

it. These have been cooperative endeavors between the academic

divisions and student services staff, primarily counselors.

Several colleges have made a concerted effort toward recruiting

older students. One admissions office sends peer recruiters--older

adults already enrolled--to visit various clubs, organizations,

churches, businesses and any other place older people congregate, and

to give information about the college, its courses, its facilities,

and its services. Another admissions office works very closely with

the academic divisions in providing courses and programs for the

numerous industries in its district, and in gaining support from

employers for these courses and programs. Still another college

offered registration by telephone.

The following are examples of answers to this question in the


Sample responses. For us, placement is relatively new. We added
a vocational/technical component to our campus about five years
ago, and we've been gradually working on placement. This falls
under our career program. Our services are for all students.
We've geared up our program knowing we have a large percent, but
we haven't specifically designed a program for them.

We've been doing a lot with taking classes off campus to
locations more accessible to our older students. We're in an
area with a high retirement population and many of these folks
live in fancy mobile home parks. What we do is take courses to
these parks as often as possible. The courses don't fall under
student services, but we take the admissions process to them. We
don't offer anything special in orientation or counseling for

Summary. Thirteen of the colleges have created some innovative

programs to serve their older student population. Each of these pro-

grams can be categorized into one of the five concerns of this

research--admissions, counseling, financial aid, career planning and

placement, and student support services.

Which service for adults receives the greatest emphasis in terms

of budget, personnel, and facilities? More and more adults are

returning to formal educational institutions. In order to serve these

students adequately, colleges must be committed to organizing,

developing and supporting programs to ensure that adults are appro-

priately served (FIPSE, 1980). The majority of the colleges in this

study have recognized this need and have put at least some of the

services at a higher priority so that the adult learner might be

better served. Slightly over one-fourth of these colleges have not

placed their emphasis on any one service area, but have "spread the

wealth," as one administrator put it, in order to maintain all

services at least at their present level. One dean claimed, "Every-

thing gets the same amount of emphasis." Another said, "We try to

provide a balance of services and try to put as much emphasis on one

as we do the others. I can't say that any of our service in student

services is particularly paramount over another."

Nearly three-fifths of the colleges surveyed did place emphasis

on either admissions, financial aid, or counseling. The rationale for

emphasizing the admissions programs was generally budgetary--adequate

personnel were required to satisfactorily recruit a sufficient number

of new students of all ages. In several instances, the admissions

operation had the largest staff. Radio and television advertising,

and travel for recruiting had consumed large parts of the resources

available for student services at one college.

The financial aid programs at these schools received the most

emphasis because, according to the respondents, the amount of money

which flows through these federal programs requires a substantial

amount of time, energy, and personnel. However, one institution

placed least emphasis on financial aid because of the large amounts of

federal money in the program, and because many of these students

"have part-time jobs and such, and just don't qualify."

In order that student services might expand their efforts to pro-

vide for special groups, to purchase equipment and material, and to

extend hours without enlarging the staff, counseling and career

planning have been receiving the greatest emphasis at three colleges.

One dean was not happy with the emphasis his institution placed

on student services. He stated, "We're going through the budget cut

procedures as most schools are . and my opinion is we're not

getting our fair share. . services always go first. . I think

services should get more to retain the people as opposed to recruiting


The following are examples of answers to this question in the


Sample responses. Admissions operations is the largest thing--
the staff is the largest we've got. Career planning and coun-
seling are the second largest. They are two little bags in a big
bag, for federal accounting purposes.

In relation to the adult student, the counseling end of it by a
long shot.

I know the students get alot of counseling around here--alot of
counseling! I would say counseling gets more attention.

I guess the one which receives the most use would be career
planning simply because of the fact it is more highly publicized
and has been pushed by the CETA Manpower folks and an awful lot
of their clients are using it. Since it has become part of the
campus, it has gained a good deal of visibility and many of our
current students, young and old, are using it . as far as
other services are concerned, I would have to say admission
receives the next greatest amount of effort and energies.

Summary. There is little commonality among the 18 community

colleges about the student services which receive the greatest

emphasis. Although some have divided talents, money, and enthusiasm

equally, most have done so among counseling and career planning,

admissions, and financial aid.

How did your institution decide to provide these services for

adults? For the most part, there was a need perceived by the student

services staff to provide services for older students. It was felt by

one institution that something needed to be done for the older stu-

dents, especially women, because so many were returning to school.

With so many students on campus only in the evening, extending

services into the evening hours seemed to three other colleges to be

a necessity, in order to meet students'needs.

With the decline in full-time enrollment by traditional students,

several colleges began looking at programs for the older, non-

traditional students. "When we looked at enrollment problems and FTE

decline or stabilization, and hoping to raise it a little bit, we

looked at providing more services to the community and trying to get

more of the non-traditional students in." This reason was expressed

by three of the respondents.

Only two schools developed their services in response to student

need surveys. Each of these surveyed current adult students and com-

munity members to determine what they wanted and expected from the

college. One indicated that staff traveled to other schools to

observe their programs.

One of the institutions developed services through the pressure

of community civic groups. In one community, for example, the local

Junior League became interested in the growing number of displaced

homemakers in the district and began inquiring of college officials

concerning the services--both academic and non-academic--which could

be made available for them. With this interest and interest from

displaced homemakers who were already enrolled, a special program was

developed with funding from the Junior League and state agencies.

The following are examples of answers to this question in the


Sample responses. Well, we just felt a need to do something for
the older student, and a number of people felt that we needed to
move in the direction of special services for women. I felt that
we should not single women . that men had problems too. So,
let's develop a center that works for both.

Probably the most critical thing was sheer numbers. The evening
program had roughly a third of our enrollment, and many of those
people had no contact at all with the college in the daytime.

We have students who are not of the traditional age we would have
thought of 20 years ago. Students are older--our average student
is 28-29 years of age. With dwindling enrollments, we tend to
put emphasis in the so-called adult students. Naturally we have
to consider them. As the war babies sort of wind down, there
goes the traditional student.

Summary. Services for adults have been developed and offered for

adults founded more on a perceived or observed need than on need

identified through formal survey. Institutions have been made aware

of a need for services from local interest groups as well as their own

reaction to declining enrollment. The latter is an example of

designing services to meet the institutional needs of increased

revenue through increased FTE (full time equivalent) students rather

than students' needs for appropriate services.

How have older students been made aware of your services and how

many have been served? The mere existence of a program does not

guarantee it will be well attended. Most must be well-publicized.

Fauquet (1977) found that publicity on the availability of services

was rarely directed toward adults. The programs offered through the

18 community colleges included in this study were publicized through

a variety of means. On campus methods included posters, weekly

bulletins, flyers, college catalogs, school newspapers and class

schedules. Many thought that verbal confirmation by satisfied users

of the services was one of the most effective means of publicity. In

one case, faculty and student services staff had developed a

respectful relationship resulting in faculty support for student

services activities which helped to promote the service through

faculty referrals.

Another student services staff displayed pictures of each of its

members identifying the services, responsibilities, and names of each

one. It was felt that this helped students recognize staff members

and their affiliated programs and provided an "icebreaker" for

potential clients.

Off-campus publicity included both paid advertisements and public

service broadcasts on radio and television. Also included were

brochures and catalogs left in public places, brochures and announce-

ments in bank statements, newsletters, and direct mailings to alumni,

friends of the college, members of boards of trustees and anyone else

who might be included on a mailing list, including current students.

Fifteen of the 18 institutions in this study could not identify

the number of students served. Comments included "a lot in job place-

ment," "business every night," "a large contingency of older stu-

dents." One institution was able to identify a number of 15 to 20

persons per term in their women's program, whereas another women's

program claimed 2,500 participants the first year, and a third

expanded from 400 to 1,400 unduplicated head count.

As might be expected, all of the administrators claimed their

programs to have been successful and effective in meeting the needs of

their older student population. This reinforces the responses to the

questionnaire item on effectiveness. The method for measuring the

effectiveness was usually non-scientific, however. The general

feeling was that if it seemed effective, it probably was. "If you

don't lose them, you must be doing something right," was one


The following are examples of answers to this question in the


Sample responses. We publicize in numerous ways. We have
flyers. Our schedules that go out indicate the hours that the
counseling center, etcetera, is open. We have notices on every
door of the student services area that tell the hours and days
. it helps, I think.

We've served a goodly number of students, though I can't put my
finger on the number. But, it's growing. The more people find
out about the fact we're here, the more our services will be
used. Now, we publicize with posters, ads in the papers, and all
kinds of things to let students know we are available, and that
we have these services going.

We've publicized this through every way possible--media on and
off campus, posters. In every program area we have notices that
tutorial services are available.

Summary. Publicity occurred in many forms from the simplest

poster to elaborate television advertising. Though few were able to

provide information on the numbers served in each area, some kept

records for accountability. Most programs were considered effective,

but the method for measuring the effectiveness usually was not.

Have you any indication whether or not these services have con-

tributed to the increased enrollment and/or retention of adult

students? One study found that approximately 26 million adults did

not participate for reasons which could have been remedied through

adequate counseling (Heffernan, Macy, & Vickers, 1976). Another esti-

mated that 40 million adults would return to classroom study if

institutions were more responsive to their personal and educational

needs (Levitz & Noel, 1980).

Because there are many variables which can contribute to

increased enrollment and retention, this question was a difficult one

for the interviewees to answer. However, most answered positively--

the services and programs offered did improve retention and enrollment

among those who used them. One guided studies program averaged 60 to

70 completers per year, most of whom moved directly into the regular

curriculum. One dean stated, "We do have the feeling from feedback we

get from people that it (full-time evening counselor) has been


Another indicated, "lie haven't made any studies to show it.

Certainly we have students who have enrolled who have stated they

would not have done so without the publicity or other students'

comments. By that kind of informal review, we can say it has helped


Some negative comments included, "We are running what I feel is a

high dropout rate, about 21 to 22 percent per quarter. So, I'm not

sure what we're doing is correct." "Even now that we have a full time

evening counselor, I don't think we'll see much significant change."

"In a very limited way, if at all."

The following are examples of answers to this question in the


Sample responses. I think definitely! As far as being able to
show you statistical information to back that up, we are probably
not that far along yet. But, I don't think there is any question
about it, that we see the individual case where that is indeed
making a difference.

I don't think we'll see much significant change. Maybe we'll
just be doing a little better job of what we're doing. Most of
your adults are going to come, you know, and they pretty well are
going to tough it out on their own, whether they have any help
or not.

Summary. None of the interviewees had any survey data supporting

increased enrollment or retention of older students resulting from use

of the student services provided. The feeling generally was that

there had been increased enrollment and retention.

How do you perceive the attitudes of the institution as a whole

toward older students? In a report on four programs for adult higher

education the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education

(FIPSE, 1980) stated that a strong institutional commitment and a

positive attitude by faculty, administrators, and staff toward adult

students are necessary for program success and perhaps institutional


The attitudes of the faculty, administration, and staff toward

older students at all 18 institutions in this study were reported as

positive but not without problems. One college reported the diffi-

culty some new, young faculty had with feeling comfortable teaching

older students. Another reported an elitist attitude among some

faculty wherein they felt they should not waste their time on students

who lack the ability to do college work. It was emphasized that this

attitude was not directed solely to older students. Yet because of

some of the problems which manifest themselves among adults who have

been away from formal education for, in some cases, many years, atti-

tudes toward adults by some faculty were negative.

Three other student affairs administrators perceived the attitude

toward older students to be no different than the attitude toward the

younger ones, i.e., students are students. This perspective could be

problematic for adult student programs because, if adults are per-

ceived as not being unlike younger ones, it would be difficult to gain

support for providing different services. This apparently was not the

case in these three institutions, as each reported numerous services

for older students. One reported, "We're all just students; probably

a tremendous melting pot as far as age is concerned. I just don't see

any negative aspects to the more mature student . they all seem to

be working toward the same thing. I think this is for better


Because of the investment adults make, i.e., time, money, reduced

income, and possible familial stresses, they tend to take their

schooling a little more seriously. As a result, faculty sometimes

prefer having adults in class rather than younger ones (or at least a

mix). One dean stated, "I'm of the opinion it [adult presence] adds a

great deal of maturity in a hurry to the attitudes of younger kids."

Finally, another dean declared, "We realize and acknowledge their

presence and we know we need to be much more conscious of their needs.

We are devoting time and energy and spirit to becoming more aware, as

well as putting into effect services and programs for the students

25 and over."

The following are examples of answers to this question in the


Sample responses. The attitude is a very positive one. What we
do concerning programs and services is try to create adult pro-
grams which address the needs of the population.

I think an overwhelming positive, for this reason. The adult
students who are coming to us are here for a purpose and they
really get after a grade to the point that if a teacher is sick
and can't come to class, and you have a student that has driven
15 miles to class, they're mad. They do exceptionally well on
their grade point average, and we found that by doing research on
the second careers scholarship program.

Summary. Older students have become a part of the community

college environment. As such, they are accepted and welcomed by all

facets of the institutions which serve them, with the exception of

those who view them as threats or as incompetent students.

Application of the Data to the Research Questions

Research Question 1

Which of the five services being investigated are provided for

adult students in a way which is different from their more traditional

applications? Generally, services were found to be offered adult

students in all five student services categories, though none of the

surveyed institutions offered services in all five at any one time. A

category by category analysis of the data revealed that 88.9 percent

(16) of the colleges offered services for adults in the admissions

area and the counseling area. Career planning services were available

in 77.8 percent (14) of the colleges. Financial aid services and

support services were available in 72.2 percent (13) and 55.6 percent

(10) of the institutions respectively.

According to the information gathered through the interviews,

special services in admissions have included recruitment programs

aimed at employees--and their spouses--of local industries, simplified

application procedures, and registration services taken to senior

citizen centers for their convenience.

Counseling services which were offered older students usually

were done as part of the services to which students had access through

the various women's groups, e.g., Women on the Way; older student

groups, e.g., Second Wind Group; and career development groups, e.g.,

Second Time Around Group.

Though not specifically designed for older students, to make

counseling services more accessible to adults, hours of operation for

counseling services were often extended to the evening hours.

Federal financial aid programs are available to all students who

are at least half-time students (usually taking six credits per term).

Because many adults take only one course per term, this source of aid

is not available to them. Some of the financial aid services from

several of the schools in this study have made available scholarships

for returning older students, often given as incentives to continue

their education. Senior citizens in two states have been granted

tuition waivers through state legislative action. These have been

helpful for those on fixed income.

Career planning and placement services have included special

groups and services emphasizing meeting the needs of older students

for establishing or clarifying career goals.

The support services, in addition to the clubs and groups

mentioned in the discussion of the counseling services, have provided

day care facilities and tutorial services for adults, helping them to

become acclimated to academic work.

Research Question 2

Which services receive the greatest emphasis for non-traditional

students? As perceived by the chief student personnel officers at

each college surveyed, counseling services receive the greatest

emphasis in terms of budgetary support, number of personnel assigned,

time allotted, and energy expended. This was because of the need for

many adults to have an opportunity to overcome their reentry problems,

i.e., lack of adequate study habits, test and school anxieties, and

lack of academic self-confidence.

Ranked second were financial aid services which many older stu-

dents need in order to afford their college costs. Without this aid,

whether it be federal, state, local, public or private, many adults

would find it difficult to attend because of their reduced level of

income while enrolled.

Admissions was ranked third. This is where the emphasis is

placed for recruitment. Likewise, efforts were made to facilitate the

admissions process for older students by providing services off campus

in locations convenient for them.

Ranking fourth and fifth were career planning and support

services respectively. There were in some cases feelings among

student affairs administrators that older students have identified

career and educational goals, have decided how they want to attain

them, and therefore have little or no need for career planning. Aside

from special support groups, other support services such as child-care

centers were frequently not available. These inadequacies were often

due to lack of funds rather than attitude or concern for adult


Research Question 3

Are the student services which are offered addressing the needs

of adults (as identified in the literature)? Generally, the needs of

adult learners were being met by the services available to them at the

community and junior colleges, but none of the colleges were offering

all five service areas for adults. Even through the traditional

applications, with some effort and sacrifice on the students' part,

their needs can be met. On the average, however, most of their needs

are being met at many colleges through the provision of new and often

innovative services offered specifically for that reason. At any one

college, however, services were available to meet, at most, only a few

of the adults' special needs.

Cross (1978) identified the needs of would-be learners for both

career and educational counseling, but that these people have little

information about where to receive these services. All schools in

this study indicated the presence of a publicity program designed to

provide the consumer--both on and off campus--with information con-

cerning services offered,for whom they were designed, when they were

available, how much they cost, what their goals and objectives were,

and any other information necessary to attract students. This infor-

mation was presented through various printed media, and radio and

television. In addition, it was felt that satisfied customers were a

positive source of publicity.

To meet their needs identified by Bulpitt (1973) for improved

self-concept and confidence in their academic ability, three of the

colleges started special support groups which were open-ended and

on-going. These groups gave adults the opportunity to share their

feelings and thoughts with others in the same situation and to gain

support from them. Also provided through these groups and through

other support services (learning labs), tutorial and study skills

assistance was available.

The Educational Testing Services predicted that millions of

adults did not participate in formal educational programs for reasons

which could have been remedied through adequate counseling (Heffernan,

Macy, & Vickers, 1976). To remedy this deficiency in counseling

services, all but two of the colleges in this study at least made

their counseling services more accessible to their older students.

This accessibility was accomplished by extending hours of operation to

include evenings, and by developing the support groups already


Cross (1980) and Malin, Bray, Dougherty, and Skinner (1980) found

that, because adults often must experience a reduced level of income

out of the necessity to change from full-time to part-time employment

in order to attend classes, they have a need for financial assistance.

Federal aid programs available at all public institutions have greatly

helped ease this situation. Three of the colleges in this study have

contributed to the pool of funds available by establishing special

scholarship and loan programs for adult students. Senior citizens in

two states can take advantage of state-mandated tuition waivers.

Research Question 4

As perceived by the chief student personnel officers, are the

services offered effective in providing for the special needs of adult

learners? Responses to the questionnaire item on service effectiveness

and statements in the interviews addressing effectiveness indicated

that, on the average, services are quite effective. Applying weights

to the responses to a Likert-type scale and the questionnaire, a

weighted mean was determined for each category of service (on a five-

point scale). The means ranged from a low of 4.10 for support

services to a high of 4.44 for counseling. Thus it can be concluded

that, for the services offered, there is a relatively high degree of

effectiveness for meeting adult student needs.

Research Question 5

Do community and junior colleges differentiate between tradi-

tional and non-traditional students by definition? For purposes of

statistical reporting, all but four of the 18 colleges in this survey

defined adult as anyone over 18 years of age. This would imply a

failure to recognize the differences between the needs and require-

ments of younger (traditional) students and older (non-traditional)

students. Conversations with student affairs administrators indicated

that, in actuality, this was not the case. Each institution's student

services division had recognized the difference and had, in one

respect or another, designed programs to accommodate those dif-

ferences. These programs included special interest groups, scholar-

ships for adults, special recruiting and admissions programs, extended

hours, and guided studies programs.

Research Question 6

Have the services offered adult students contributed to the

increased enrollment or retention of adult students? Though none of

the colleges could provide any survey data on the question of

enrollment and retention, nearly every one perceived that its enroll-

ment and retention of older students had improved with the availa-

bility of these services. Developmental studies programs had

acclimated students to college and academic life. Women's and older

student support groups had helped smooth the rough edges of again

becoming a student. Career development centers had provided the

assistance needed to identify career and educational goals, and to

learn employability skills. Financial aid services had helped make it

financially possible for many to attend college. Admissions offices

made it easier for students to apply and enroll in the programs of

their choice. Counseling had become more readily accessible, and was

available as part of the process for each of the other service areas

in order to help adults adjust to the new demands and responsi-

bilities of being a student. The counseling services provided

included academic advising, career counseling, and personal



Chapter IV contains the results and an analysis of the question-

naire and interview items presented to the chief student personnel

officers at 18 Southeastern public community colleges. All five of

the student services areas (admissions, counseling, career planning

and placement, financial aid, and support services) were found to be

available for older students. Some colleges offered more than others,

but all had recognized the need to improve services for adult

learners. Counseling and admissions services were available most fre-

quently (88.9 percent of the colleges). Support services were offered


the least (55.6 percent of the colleges). The services which were

available were perceived to be quite effective by the student services

administrators. The ranking of effectiveness for each service was, in

descending order, counseling, admissions, career planning, financial

aid, and support services. The ranking of the emphasis placed on each

service by the institution was, in descending order, counseling,

financial aid, admissions, career planning, and support services. The

interviews provided insight and reinforcement for the questionnaire



This chapter is organized into three sections: a summary of the

study, major findings, general observations and conclusions based on

the analysis of the responses to the questionnaire and the interview,

and recommendations.


The purpose of this research was to identify and to describe the

extent to which the special needs of older students are being addressed

through the offices of student services of 18 randomly selected commu-

nity and junior colleges in 11 southern states. The services to be

researched were identified through a review of the literature which

revealed the needs of adult learners. The service categories

included: (1) Admissions, (2) Counseling, (3) Financial Aid,

(4) Career Planning and Placement, (5) Support Services. The research

was designed to reveal the steps taken toward meeting the special

needs of adult students, to evaluate the effectiveness for adult

students of the programs offered, and to evaluate the importance

placed on these services by each institution.

The chief student affairs officer at each institution was asked

to respond to a questionnaire designed to reveal (a) the number of

adult students enrolled, (b) the institution's definition of adult,

(c) whether or not services in each category were available to older

students, (d) how effective they were in serving the adults, and

(e) the institutional emphasis placed on each service category.

A preliminary questionnaire and interview questions were provided

several student personnel practitioners for their reaction to the

appropriateness and clarity of the items. Changes were made in accord

with their recommendations. The questionnaire (Appendix A) was mailed

to the student personnel administrator in 18 public community colleges

in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina,

Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Louisiana and South Carolina were not

represented because institutions in these states did not meet the

population selection criteria. Cover letters and the letter of

endorsement were mailed with each questionnaire (Appendix B).

Telephone interviews were prearranged through use of the Tele-

phone Interview Appointment Card (Appendix C) which was returned with

each questionnaire. Each interview was conducted to clarify responses

to the questionnaire and to identify the specific programs being used.

Questionnaire and interview responses revealed that, on the

average, all 18 community and junior colleges in this study were pro-

viding student services specifically designed to meet the needs of

their older students. Though this new clientele can be served with

traditional services, programs have been conceived and developed

specifically to serve adults. None of the colleges, however, were

offering services in all five categories.

Generally, the service which received the most institutional

emphasis and support was counseling, the services of which have most

often been distributed among the five service categories. Financial

aid programs with special incentive scholarships for adults, and

admissions programs designed to recruit and easily enroll adults were

also strongly emphasized. Career planning and placement programs and

support service programs were least emphasized.

When comparing the results, especially interview results, with

the findings in the literature on adult student needs, the student

services divisions of the surveyed institutions seemed to be aware of

and sympathetic to the needs of adult learners. Results show efforts

are being made to meet those needs and that, according to the student

personnel administrators, those efforts,though limited, have been

effective in doing so.

In terms of age, most community colleges considered all students

over 18 as adults. Differentiation between traditional and non-

traditional students was usually done ona program-by-program basis and

with emphasis from each student services staff, rarely by the insti-

tution. The general feeling among the student services administrators

was that providing quality, effective programs for older students will

entice them to enroll, and to continue in their courses once they do.

None of the colleges could support this feeling with numbers.

Chapter IV presented the results of the questionnaire and analysis

of the responses to it and to the interview items. Descriptions of

programs and answers to the research questions are included.

Major Findings

An analysis of the data from both the questionnaire and the

interview items (representing a 100 percent response rate) revealed

the following major findings.

1. One half of the student personnel administrators surveyed

were unable to supply enrollment data by full-time or part-time, male

or female students.

2. Services were not offered adults in all five of the cate-

gories studied.

3. Of those services offered most often, counseling and

financial aid services received the greatest amount of institutional

support and emphasis for serving adult learners. Career planning and

support services received the least amount.

4. When addressing the needs of older students, as identified in

the literature, community and junior college student services

divisions have, on the average, made some attempt to meet those needs.

None of them is attempting to meet all of their needs.

5. The chief student personnel officer of each institution per-

ceived the services being offered adults as effective in meeting

adults' needs.

6. None of the student personnel administrators could supply

institutional research data confirming their positive perceptions of

the impact services had had on increased enrollment and retention of

older students.

7. Community and junior colleges generally did not officially

differentiate between their traditional and non-traditional students,

although the student services staffs normally did. Colleges which do

not differentiate are less likely to have special services for older


8. Institutions in this study are not making adequate attempts

to meet the non-academic needs of older students in all the service

categories studied. Therefore, many of the needs for services held by

lifelong learners are not being met by many community and junior

college student services divisions.

Conclusions and General Observations

The analysis of both the questionnaire and the interview

responses indicated that services for adults in community and junior

colleges are apparently improving over what they have been as reported

in the literature. The special needs of adult students are being

addressed by some of the institutions surveyed, but only in a limited

way, and none of them in all five of the service categories studied.

Through various counselor-led groups, or through traditional one-

to-one counseling sessions, student services staffs are attempting to

help older students in overcoming their anxieties, their low self-

esteem, and their lack of confidence in their academic ability and

interpersonal relationships. The most popular method of reaching

these people was through clubs and organizations which have been

designed to offer emotional support while at the same time providing a

ready resource of information concerning various aspects of college


According to the literature, younger students tend to tolerate

the traditional methods of hurdling the application/registration

obstacles, but adults quite often see no necessity for the paperwork

and the procedure, and they become irritated with much of it. Results

of this study showed that admissions services are attempting to elimi-

nate some of these annoyances. Applications are becoming shorter and

less complex, requiring less time to complete. Registration (as well

as course offerings) are being taken to locations convenient for

senior citizens or working adults. Registration by mail and by

telephone are becoming popular.

Recruitment has moved beyond high school walls. Brochures,

posters, and visitations to areas of adult concentration, i.e., places

of employment, professional offices, and shopping areas, have brought

colleges and the services they offer to the attention of more adult

learners. Community colleges are becoming places for adults as well

as youth.

Much of the financial aid is regulated and determined by federal

law and requirements. Basic grants, college work-study programs, and

federal loan programs are available only to students enrolled as half

time or more. Tuition waivers for senior citizens have provided an

incentive for people over 62 years of age to remain mentally active

and alert by covering the tuition costs of attending college. Other

innovative incentive scholarships are being developed and funded

through endowments and foundations. Those who receive these scholar-

ships usually become active recruiters simply by telling others of

their fortune.

Career planning and placement services are becoming hubs of

activity, not only for traditional students searching for a career

goal, but also for older students and community members who are

seeking or undergoing a change in their lifestyle. Divorcees and

mothers whose children are in school are looking for career opportu-

nities and the training necessary for attaining them. Mid-life career

changers are searching for options to their current career patterns

and occupations. The services of the career planning offices are

assisting in the decision-making process before students enter college,

and are providing support where necessary while they are on campus.

However, aside from the fact that this research has revealed

several attempts to meet the special needs of adult learners, dis-

cussions with the chief student personnel officers have aroused some

major concerns. One is that, since most colleges do not officially

define adult, or when they do, they include anyone over 18 years of

age, institutions are only paying lip-service to support for non-

traditional students while continuing to provide services in the same

fashion for all students. Members of student services staffs may recog-

nize the necessity for discriminating between services for youth and

services for adults. The problem arises when others, i.e., adminis-

trators and faculty, cannot be convinced of the necessity for doing

so. If services for adults are not recognized as a priority item by

the top administrators in an institution, it is not likely that sup-

port for these programs will be more than minimal. To fulfill the

mission of the community college for providing educational and support

services for its constituents, administrators must be made aware of

the needs and understand what must be done to meet those needs.

A second concern is that the pilot study conducted prior to

initiating this study indicated that student personnel administrators

recognize the need for adult student services and for research in this

field. If this might be considered a prevailing attitude among stu-

dent personnel professionals, then it seems somewhat neglectful for

institutions not to be providing a broader range of services for

adults at each institution.

Institutional research, or lack thereof, regarding the effective-

ness of programs and services on the enrollment and retention of adult

students is another concern. If services are going to be offered,

they must be so based on research of the needs of students and how

well those services are meeting their needs. Only two of the insti-

tutions surveyed had conducted the research; the others based their

comments either on what they had heard in casual conversation with

participants, or on "feelings" they had developed about the success of

their programs.

A third concern is that the development of services for adults

may be institution-centered rather than student-centered. Several

respondents reported a decline in full time equivalent enrollment

(FTE) as a major factor in their decision to expand services for

adults. If the driving force behind the move to help the older stu-

dents is increased FTE, then the commitment made by the institutions

in this study might not necessarily be to the student but rather to

the institution.

The lifelong learning goals and objectives of the older student

can be at least partially met at the community or junior college. But

services must be available which address the non-academic needs of

this clientele. The results of this study show that colleges are

attempting to do so, yet only in a limited way. Where there were

services for adults in counseling and financial aid, there were none

in admissions or career planning, and vice versa.

In the final analysis, the attempts to meet the non-academic

needs of older students through each of the student services areas--

admissions, counseling, career planning and placement, financial aid,

or supportservices--at the same time have been inadequate. Therefore,

according to this research, many of the needs for services held by

lifelong learners are not being addressed by the community and junior

college student services divisions at the institutions surveyed.


The purpose of this study was to identify and to describe, through

questionnaire and personal interview, the extent towhich community and

junior colleges are providing services to meet the needs of older stu-

dents. As an outcome of the results of this research, several

recommendations can be made.

1. It is recommended that all community colleges evaluate their

definition of adult student to ensure the services they offer are appro-

priate for meeting the needs of the various ages of their clientele.

2. It is recommended that student services practitioners more care-

fully evaluate the needs of their students in order to focus more ade-

quately on those needs in providing services. Many of the respondents

in this study indicated that the need for their programs was determined

by feelings and observations rather than formal assessments of need.

3. It is recommended that financial aid offices attempt to

create special scholarships for older students, the selection criteria

for which might include time away from school or similar standard.

The bulk of financial aid funds is made available through federal

programs. Many adults do not qualify for these funds because of

income or because they are not enrolled at least half time.

4. It is recommended that institutions research the need and

feasibility of offering a day care service on campus. These centers

could be either self-supporting, separate student services sponsored,

or they might be developed as part of an early childhood education

program. Only two of the colleges in this study provided day care

facilities for the children of their students.

5. It is recommended that research of a similar nature be con-

ducted throughout other geographic regions of the United States to

examine the findings of this study, and to compare them in terms of

the consistency of enrollment patterns, the institutional commitment

to serving adult students' needs, and the types of services offered.

6. It is recommended that the next step in the research process

be to investigate how students who have used these services perceive

the effectiveness of these programs--who is staying and who is not.

7. It is recommended that services from each category of ser-

vices be provided through the conduct of on-going support groups for

adults. With the presence of a given number of students at regularly

scheduled times, adequate support and appropriate information can be

given from each service category providing growth and development

opportunities for each participant.

8. For those who do not choose to join a group, it is recom-

mended that a centralized, diverse program of services be made

available for ease of disseminating information and providing for

proper support for adding adult students.

9. It is recommended that career planning programs be evaluated

and revised to include special services for adult learners. Though

many are enrolling for personal enrichment, many others are enrolling

for retraining purposes, to gain new skills, to become employable.

Yet a large number of these have little or no idea how to make

appropriate choices in these areas.

10. It is recommended that effort be made to publicize more ade-

quately the services available. A public relations effort with local

service organizations, clubs, and church groups would help to promote

the services. Peer and financial support might also result from such


11. It is recommended that efforts be made to increase the

active involvement of older students in various activities on campus.

Several influential, tactful adults active in the proper areas, e.g.,

peer counseling, tutoring, and work-study programs, could help in con-

vincing administrators and faculty of the value of providing services

for adult students.


Name of your institution

Total enrollment, Fall 1981 (credit head count):

Adult enrollment, Fall 1981 (credit head count):
Full time: male
Part time: male

, female
, female

How does your institution define "adult?"

In the categories of student services below, check whether or not you
provide each as a new or modified one for adult students, and rate the
effectiveness of each service as you perceive it by circling the
appropriate numeral (1--high, 5--low).

yes no
ADMISSIONS (e.g., recruitment,
orientation, assessing prior
learning, etc.)
COUNSELING (e.g., academic
advising, special support
groups, evening hours, etc.)
FINANCIAL AID (e.g., tuition
waivers, special scholarships,
career change workshops,
resume writing, etc.)
resource center, child care,


1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Rank the services listed above with regard to the emphasis each
receives at your institution, using the appropriate letter (1--high,
1 ,2 ,3 ,4 ,5

Briefly explain any service (or aspects thereof) you feel to be
especially effective for adult students at your institution:

Thank you for your assistance. Please return the card identifying a
convenient time for me to phone you along with the completed ques-
tionnaire in the enclosed self-addressed, stamped enveloped.


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