ASC revises graduate school admission requirements to meet the needs of adult learners

(03-04-2009)

Adams State College's Graduate School announces new admission requirements that better address the needs of adult students, according to Dr. Don Johnston, Associate Provost for Graduate Studies.

The new process considers the applicant's most recent 30 hours of course work, whether that be at the graduate, continuing education, or undergraduate level.

"Previously, graduate school admission GPA calculation was based solely on an applicant's undergraduate GPA. However, research now indicates that among adult learners, the undergrad GPA as it relates to graduate school success is not always a reliable indicator," Johnston explained. "Many adult students have taken graduate courses or continuing education through the years after completing their undergraduate degree. To ignore those grades doesn't do the student justice. A 15-year-old undergraduate transcript often does not represent the student's ability to succeed in graduate school."

The demographics of graduate education have been shifting nationally, Johnston said. Formerly, most students proceeded to graduate work immediately following undergraduate college work. Now, 40 percent of Adams State's nearly 500 graduate students are between the ages of 26 and 35, while 55 percent are over age 35.

"Adams State's Graduate School is responding to the changing demographics and needs of adult learners. Grad schools across the country now focused on adult education must re-examine their philosophy and approach to graduate studies," he added. "That's why we're moving to more online and distance education programs. Most adults seeking to continue their higher education needs can't simply quit work, move to Alamosa, and attend a graduate degree program."

He said Adams State's new Master's of Business Administration (MBA), which begins in June, "is a good example of how we're changing the delivery of adult education in this country." Focused on adult learners, the program is "hybrid" - combining online coursework with two one-week residencies on campus during the summers. "The course load is compatible with working adults; it can be completed in two full years."

Like many of Adams State's existing graduate programs, the new MBA will follow the cohort model, in which a group of students takes all courses in the same sequence.

"Adults tend to like the cohort model. They become colleagues with their peers through the entire program," Johnston said. "Today's online courses incorporate a much larger degree of group work. That group activity tends to enrich the experience for most adult learners. In the online environment, we have professionals coming together and sharing experiences. That kind of environment is actually enhancing to adult learners."

Adams State also offers online, cohort graduate programs in Counselor Education, Teacher Education, History, and Human Performance & Physical Education.

"As we continue to build our Graduate School Programs, we are exploring new programs to offer in this format. The future appears strong and may offer many opportunities for ASC in adult on-line learning," Johnston said.

"As we continue to grow and pursue quality graduate education programs at ASC, the Graduate School is also pursuing membership in the Association of Graduate Schools, which offers access to resources for improving graduate programs."

For more information about Adams State's MBA program, call Program Director Liz Thomas at 719-587-7477, or go to the MBA website.

To learn about other graduate programs offered at Adams State, call 719-587-8152; toll free: 1-866-407-0013, email, or go to the Graduate School website.

By Julie Waechter