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Adult Learners Get Second Chance at Community College

Adult Learners Get Second Chance at Community College

Adult Learners Get Second Chance at Community College

May 17, 2023

Adult learner graduating community college

Community colleges are a great first-choice for college students, but they are also a great second chance for adult learners and non-traditional students.

For adult learners, community colleges offer affordable education options with flexible schedules for people balancing work or family responsibility.

According to a study released by the Pell Institute, 70 percent of adult learners without dependents and 80 percent of adult learners with dependents attend community colleges. Some adult learners enroll in community college to complete education after “stopping out.” Other adult learners enroll looking for a fresh start or a new career.

Completing Education

After 18 years Central Mexico New Mexico College graduate Rebecca Negron returned to college once her children moved out. While studying at Northwestern University in 2005, Negron became a single mother and “stopped out” to focus on her children.

As an adult learner, Negron was nervous about returning to school after putting her education on hold for many years. However, her community college instructors and faculty helped her reacclimate to life in the classroom.

Community college offered her a second chance at completing her education.

Career Change

Northeast Iowa Community College student Maren Larsen already had her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and a successful consulting career when she decided to enroll in community college.

Upon reentering the workforce, Larsen was interested in working with technology, so she enrolled in community college to get her Associate of Applied Science.

She wants to begin a new career as a network administrator, and community college is helping her make that shift.

Second Chance

In 2011, James Elliott was sentenced to seven years in prison.  While in prison, he worked to better himself. He did this by taking distance learning classes and helping others by serving as a GED tutor. Elliott’s sentence was shortened for his service and good behavior.

However, once he was released, Elliott struggled with finding a good job because of his felony. Knowing that his minimum wage job in the food industry would be unable to provide for him, Elliott decided to enroll in community college.

He returned to Delaware Tech, which he had been attending before he was sentenced to prison. Despite his mistake, Delaware Tech knew the importance of education for rehabilitation. While at community college, Elliott was named a New Century Transfer Pathways Scholar and member of Phi Theta Kappa’s All-USA Academic Team.

Since graduating Delaware Tech, Elliott became a Truman Scholar and graduated from Columbia University. An advocate for prison reform and education-based rehabilitation, he plans to pursue his Juris Doctor.

Community college helped him turn his life around.


Each of these students have different background and came from different situations. Community college offered all of them a second chance. Likewise, many adult learners and non-traditional students who enroll in community college looking for a second chance at their education, their career, or their life.

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