How Snead State eased adult learner anxiety—and secured 800 course enrollments

Expert Insight

How Snead State eased adult learner anxiety—and secured 800 course enrollments

It’s only natural that working adults—many of whom have not stepped foot in a classroom since high school—question their academic abilities and feel intimidated by the college environment.

To help these prospective students overcome their anxiety and drive enrollment, administrators often point to non-credit training programs as a less daunting entry point to college. Despite this guidance, few students end up transitioning from non-credit to for-credit programs. Snead State Community College rethinks the non-credit to for-credit pipeline by offering one free for-credit course to adult learners who complete non-credit training.

No-risk enrollments offer bridge to continued studies

Most community colleges believe their non-credit coursework provides students an opportunity to develop confidence that they can succeed in college. But non-credit courses do not resemble the curriculum and classroom environment of for-credit classes which means adult learners don’t have the opportunity to develop the confidence they need to enroll in paid, for-credit coursework. Rather than exclusively relying on non-credit courses to ease adult learner concerns, Snead State offers a free for-credit course, providing a risk-free opportunity for adult learners to test their fit and interest in college coursework.

Snead State advertises the free course in their non-credit Ready to Work training brochure as a $426 value to students. This Ready to Work program targets unemployed and underemployed individuals and covers job search and job readiness skills such as workplace behavior, communication, and problem solving.

In addition to advertising the training in the brochure, instructors remind students of the free for-credit course during a short post-session call or email with each student the week after the Ready to Work training is completed. To sign up for the free course, students contact the registration office and the college takes care of all funding and financial aid steps.

The free trial allows students to evaluate their readiness for college level coursework at no financial risk while getting starting on a path towards a credential. Once students gain confidence in their ability to complete coursework and learn new skills, they can continue to take courses toward a certificate or degree at the standard tuition rate.

Adult student persistence leads to additional revenue

Between 2010 and 2014, over a quarter of the students who have completed the non-credit work readiness training have taken a free three credit course. Collectively, these students then enrolled in more than 800 additional paid courses and completed nearly two dozen certificates and degrees at the college.