WSU Adult Learner Characteristics

Based on research both internal and external research, we have found several commonalities among adult learners.

What Our Adult Learners Need and Want


  • Easier transfer of credit from institution to institution
  • More flexible course, certificate, and degree programs
  • Online, hybrid, evening, cohort, competency-based learning, and education in the workplace
  • Credit for Prior Learning and less time to degree completion
  • More flexible financial aid policies and more scholarship opportunities
  • Adult friendly places and faces


The Emergence of Post-Traditional Students

Seven characteristics of post-traditional students defined by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

  1. Have delayed enrollment into post secondary education
  2. Attend part-time
  3. Are financially independent of parents
  4. Work full-time while enrolled
  5. Have dependents other than a spouse
  6. Are a single parent
  7. Lack a standard high school diploma