Center to Provide Adults with Resources, Belonging, and Support to Complete their Education

Sacramento State is taking steps to better serve adult students with plans to launch an Adult Learner Success Center. Grounded in an idea that grew out of Dr. Anna Keck’s doctoral research, the Center will provide returning students with the necessary resources and support they need to return to school to complete their degree. Like specialized centers that already exist to support veterans, first-gen, LGBTQ students, and other communities, the Adult Learner Success Center will serve as a space where adult learners can connect with peers, receive academic coaching, and access university and career support services.

In November 2022, the College of Continuing Education hosted a donor appreciation reception where Keck had the opportunity to showcase her work that offers practical recommendations for higher education leaders and practitioners to better serve returning learners.

The first of its kind in the region, the Adult Learner Success Center will be an innovative contribution to HornetAttain!, Sacramento State’s robust adult learner program. The reception, pictured above, showed the plans for the project. Dr. Keck’s work in the field and this new space will create a space where adult experience belonging.

“What broke my heart was hearing my adult students share feelings of shame for not having a degree yet, but also shame for feeling like an outsider enrolled in college classes. Adult attainment and holistic support for the adult learner as a whole being, and throughout their entire experience in higher education, has always been a passion,” says Keck. “It’s not enough that we increase adult learner enrollment and completion; we need to improve their experiences throughout their higher education experience and ensure that we are providing an equitable educational experience for all our learners.”

The team at ProjectAttain! team is inspired by Dr. Keck’s vision and the positive steps Sacramento State continues to take in supporting Comebackers.

“This type of research, resulting in a space for adults, is closely aligned with ProjectAttain!’s long-term adult attainment initiatives,” says the board chair Anette Smith. “It is also aligned with the larger ProjectAttain!-led initiatives of the Sacramento K-16 Collaborative, which aims to develop new pathways to careers in healthcare, engineering, and computer science for traditionally underrepresented communities, including adult learners.”

Keck’s research and proposed Adult Learner Success Center offer a valuable contribution to the education landscape. With the support of organizations like ProjectAttain!, higher education institutions can better serve returning learners, providing them with the resources and support they need to succeed.