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As the profile of postbaccalaureate students across the country continues to become older and more diverse, colleges and universities of all sizes and types — state, private, technical, and community — are repositioning themselves to effectively serve a broader mix of learners. However, due to the unique background, professional goals, and academic interests of adult learners, higher education institutions (HEIs) must be adaptive across all of their program development, education delivery, administrative service, and student support units to meet the challenge of serving all of their learner constituencies effectively.

We propose implementing the supporting transformative excellence (STE) framework, which focuses on facilitating the intellectual, professional, personal, and sociocultural growth and transformation of adult learners who aim to obtain their undergraduate degrees at a local college or university. STE uses a foundation of five academic pillars layered with respective transformative elements to offer a systematic approach to institutions of higher learning seeking to help adult learners achieve their educational, professional, and personal goals.

With an altered higher education landscape, colleges and universities will need to innovate at all levels of the academic enterprise to help prepare all learners for their lifelong pursuits. We assert that the use of a framework like STE helps bridge barriers in time, place, and tradition for the adult learner, thus allowing HEIs to realize their academic, service, and social missions.

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CAEL Forum and News