Ranking of Best Universities for Adult Learners Is “So Needed”


For the second consecutive year, Washington Monthly ranks Golden Gate University America’s #1 School for Adult Learners in its annual College Guide and Rankings. Forbes contributor Richard Eisenberg wrote that the Washington Monthly list “is so needed” [emphasis his] because of the sheer amount adult-learner students (nearly half of higher-ed enrollees), and how different their needs are from those under 25. For example, older students want flexible scheduling, online classes that fit their busy lives, as well as credit for life experiences that have been “classes” in and of themselves.

Eisenberg highlighted a few choice quotes from Washington Monthly’s hour-plus video seminar about adult education:

  • “The best colleges for adults tend to be regional public universities, private schools, and community colleges that U.S. News doesn’t even rank.”
    — Paul Glastris, Editor in Chief of Washington Monthly
  • “Today’s students are not all 18-year-olds walking into a brick building every day, with mom and dad sending checks.”
    –Courtney Brown, Vice President of Strategic Impact at the Lumina Foundation
  • “The environment for higher-ed programs that have a focus on older adults seeking purposeful engagement is still evolving as universities try to find the business model that works for them.”
    –Marci Alboher, Vice President, Strategic Communications, at Encore.org.

The participation of Encore.org in the video seminar is significant because of the organization’s mission of supporting meaningful second careers for older adults with resources such as the Encore Career Handbook.  Supporting second  (and first!) careers for adults has been fundamental to Golden Gate University’s mission for over 100 years, which is no small part of its #1 ranking.

Why GGU Was Ranked #1 by Washington Monthly

To compile the rankings, Washington Monthly reviewed data from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) survey, the department’s new College Scorecard database and the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges. The metrics that determined GGU’s rating include:

  • ease of transfer/enrollment
  • flexibility of programs
  • services available for adult learners
  • percent of adult students (age 25+)
  • mean earnings of adult students ten years after entering college
  • loan repayment of adult students five years after entering repayment
  • tuition and fees for in-district students

Related postGoing Back to School in your Mid-20s, 30s, or 40s–It’s Golden Gate University’s Specialty by Jelena Ristic Kelleher, JD, Interim Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduate Programs.

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