The American Council on Education (ACE) has awarded a $25,000 grant to Eastern for a pilot project aimed at expanding access to higher education for adult learners. The grant is one of six awarded for pilot projects at institutions around the country, part of ACE's multipronged national initiative to ensure more adults in the United States obtain college degrees. Eastern's grant proposal is titled, "The Reverse Internship: Converting Banked Applied Learning into College Credit."
The Lumina Foundation estimates that the United States must increase the percentage of adults with college degrees from 38 percent in 2010 to 60 percent by 2025 to maintain an educated workforce. Connecticut is hard pressed to be part of that effort for several reasons. College attendance by nontraditional adult students is low, among the bottom third of the states; the cost of attending college in Connecticut is high and growing; and the drop-out rate of adult students attending college in Connecticut is high.
"Eastern has a long history of serving adults students," explained Carol Williams, associate dean of continuing education, "and we have had a Credit for Lifelong Learning program since 1973." Even so, the program is labor intensive and serves only about 20 adult students a year. "Capitalizing upon the idea that working adults have 'banked' valuable applied learning through their work," says Williams, "we will offer working adults a way to turn that learning into meaningful college credit through a 'reverse internship' concept whereby individuals will be able to convert their prior learning into college credits equivalent to a standard practicum or internship usable toward degree requirements."