Oct 2018

Parent Learners

Insights for Innovation: A guide to help changemakers reimagine what it means to support parents in education for stronger families, a better workforce, and our future.

By Michael B. Horn, Allison Dulin Salisbury, Elyse Ashburn, Jasmin Schiener, and Lauren Pizer

Parent learners represent more than a quarter of all undergraduate students in the United States today, and millions more in other postsecondary programs. They’ve heard the message that the good jobs in today’s economy—the ones that provide stability and family-sustaining wages—require postsecondary training, and they’re signing up in growing numbers.

And yet, they are still largely overlooked—met by a postsecondary system that wasn’t designed with them in mind. That’s why, despite their considerable assets, parent learners have worse educational outcomes than their non-parent peers.

Practitioners, policymakers, and entrepreneurs must build a better postsecondary system for parents. This report identifies significant opportunities to do so—such as leveraging technology to provide better data and guidance on education and career pathways, getting creative about how we provide childcare, or recognizing parent learners’ existing skills and helping them better translate them to the workforce. Improving the system won’t just be good for those individuals. It stands to change the trajectory of entire families, strengthen communities, and reboot our workforce.


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