Immaculata University’s College of Adult Professional Studies (CAPS) was founded in 1969 to provide working adults with a direct and meaningful path to earn their undergraduate degrees. As the needs of working adults evolve to meet workforce demands and non-traditional schedules, Immaculata also evolves to meet the needs of today’s adult learners.
Adult students are busy and have varied reasons for pursuing college degrees. In some industries and workplaces, job descriptions and skill requirements have changed, which lead working professionals to pursue degrees that enable them to reskill or upskill. In fact, adult students are the fastest growing segment in higher education and are a diverse population. Fifty-eight percent of adult students work full-time, and 25% are raising children, so they need flexible class schedules and delivery modalities. In addition, they need different resources and learning support services than their traditional-aged counterparts. With nearly half of adult students being the first in their families to attend college, and 9% identifying as first-generation immigrants, resources that specifically guide these students through the college experience are crucial to ensuring success.
Immaculata has over 50 years of experience in educating adult students. With the establishment of the Evening Division to accommodate students’ work schedules with late evening classes, Immaculata then launched its accelerated programs in 1995 to help adult students graduate in a timely manner. Since then, off-campus, cohort-based courses were introduced followed by weekend courses and off-semester classes.
Further accommodating the needs of today’s adult learners, Immaculata launched hybrid and fully online programs in 2006. Now, nearly 40% of Undergraduate classes are available in hybrid and/or fully online delivery methods and more than 12 degrees can be completed entirely online.
CAPS students also have dedicated academic advisors who guide, support and advocate for them. Also, recognizing that adults have learned valuable workplace skills outside the traditional classroom, Immaculata has a robust Credit for Prior Learning program that allows students to demonstrate learned skills equivalent to academic knowledge. What’s more, understanding that tuition can be an obstacle for adult students, the University discounts tuition for in-demand CAPS majors, making an Immaculata education one of the least expensive in the region.
Olivia Cuevas Lynch ’19 is a perfect example of today’s adult learner. Originally from the Philippines, she had nearly 20 years of nursing experience working with telemetry/oncology stroke patients before she returned to college for her bachelor’s degree. While she was earning her RN to BSN degree through CAPS, she underwent open heart surgery. Her frequent hospitalizations required her to temporarily postpone classes. The flexibility within the CAPS program allowed her to focus on her health while still pursuing her goal of obtaining a college degree.
“Immaculata allowed me to take classes while working full-time and accommodated me however they could,” Cuevas Lynch says.
“We understand that adult students have roles and responsibilities beyond classes, and often those take priority over everything else,” states Jean Shingle, Ph.D., dean of the College of Adult Professional Studies. “What we try to do is support students–encouraging them and making it easy to continue their education.”
Many adult students are interested in switching careers or seeking promotions at their current job. Some, such as long-time radiologist Connie Nabozny ’20, are required to have a college degree and certification to get, and even retain, a job.
“I couldn’t imagine being any further into my life and having someone say, ‘you know what, you have to go back to school and get a degree,’” Nabozny said. Although she had already completed a diploma program in radiology years ago, she enrolled at Immaculata and graduated with an RN to BNS degree through CAPS.
Even as a seasoned professional with 25 years of healthcare experience, she found Immaculata’s online allied health program worthwhile for her career working in a hospital. For example, she found the Spanish for Healthcare Professionals class useful when needing to communicate with Spanish-speakers in emergency situations. She also benefitted from the Research and Analysis Using Statistics class that enabled her to understand the business side of healthcare. As a member of the hospital’s structural heart team, she is now more confident in analyzing the data they uncover.
The number of adults switching careers has exploded since the pandemic. A survey conducted by Globalization Partners in October 2022 found that over a quarter of workers are seeking career changes and are willing to go back to college to make the switch. The survey also revealed some of the major reasons why people switched careers, such as better pay (34%), better schedules (34%), and the opportunity to pursue careers that weren’t around years ago (34%).
“More adults are switching careers and returning to college. However, a career change requires thought and preparation,” states Heidi Harrison, who works with adult students in her job as director of Immaculata’s career and professional development office. She adds that adult students can connect with professors who have professional contacts that may help a student secure an internship or even a job in their desired field.
Immaculata offers over 60 majors for in-demand fields, including cybersecurity, nutrition, fashion healthcare and education.
Get more information about undergraduate degree programs offered through Immaculata University’s College of Adult Professional Studies.