Final Paper for LIS 590 IS – Information in Society (Spring, 2015)
Adult Women Students: Services to Meet the Needs of the Third Shift
Higher education is becoming more and more common in modern Western society. Some people seek education to increase their level of knowledge, while others are simply in search of a credential that will let them earn more money in the job market. With the bachelor’s degree having become an entry-level requirement for many jobs that previously required only a high school diploma, the number of positions that are available to applicants without a degree continues to dwindle. This does not mean, however, that everyone who wants to earn a college degree is in a position to do so directly following high school. Many people elect to return to school later in their lives, and some of those future students are in a position to enroll in on-campus programs as non-traditional aged traditional students. Other students enroll in distance education courses, today primarily offered through online platforms.
Women have only relatively recently started serving in the professional workforce, initially predominantly in jobs that did not require a college degree. However, the overall percentage of women in higher education has been higher than that of men since 1979, and is currently over ten percentage points higher (Digest of Education Statistics, 2013). As part of the rising enrollment in online programs, the number of adult women enrolling in online higher education is growing. These women, many of who are employed and are the primary caregivers for families, have particular challenges that they must face when choosing a higher education program. While adult women distance education students have many of the same needs as other distance education students, some needs apply more specifically to women students than to other demographic groups. Online institutions have distributed a great deal of advertising to convince women that they should enroll in particular institutions because of those specific needs. Are these needs being met?