Adult Learners

Exploring a post-secondary degree?

Be sure to consider all of your options and access available resources in order to make an informed decision. To help you plan for balancing school, personal life and possibly work, consider the demands of being a student. Make sure to think about class, assignments and the commute.

As you begin making a plan, here are some questions to consider:

How long has it been since you were in school?

The District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund provides free support for those looking to earn a GED and enter a career. Among other services, they offer free courses in math, language arts, and social studies to help you prepare for the GED while building computer literacy skills. Find out more here.

Do you have employment obligations? What is your schedule like?

You might consider a program that offers evening classes, accelerated programs or online courses. See the Finding the Right Fit page for more information on these options.

If you have children, do you have child care?

Contact Child Care Information Services of Philadelphia to see if you qualify for subsidized care.

Do you have regular access to a computer and the internet?

This will be necessary in order to research and complete assignments, take online classes, and connect with professors and classmates. If you don’t have home access, consider options at KEYSPOT sites, a public library, or the home of relatives, and friends.

As an adult learner, you have many options to consider when searching for your next learning opportunity. Be sure you are choosing the perfect fit for you.

Some of the options include: online; in-class; hybrids (both in-class and online components); and accelerated programs (offering courses that last about eight weeks instead of fourteen but deliver the same amount of learning).

Not sure about online courses? Many adults do well in accelerated and online degree completion programs, but need a gentle introduction. Graduate! Philadelphia offers workshops to ease adults into online learning.  

Call 215-498-1504 or email to ask about the next workshop.

To find the right college fit, you can visit College Board.

Types of Degrees

Bachelor’s Degree

Generally, four-year colleges offer this degree and it is designed to take four years, but can take longer. Students typically graduate with a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts), B.S. (Bachelor of Science) or B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Arts).

Associate Degree

Generally, community colleges, and some four-year schools offer this degree. It typically takes two years to obtain a credential, but can take longer. There are many options for areas of study, and you can study something very broad or very specific.


Two- and four-year colleges, as well as certificate-only schools offer this credential. The amount of time to obtain a certificate can range from two weeks to two years, with an average of six months to one year. Certificates are specialized and technical. The purpose of a certificate is to find work, or build a career in a specific area.

Local Resources

Here are some local resources to help you find the best fit, make your plan and finance your degree:

Educational Opportunity Center

A drop-in center exclusively for adults, Educational Opportunity Center can help guide you through the college-going process. Call (215) 246-3505 for more information.

Graduate! Philadelphia

Graduate!Philadelphia works with adults who already have some college credit. An advisor can help you track down your existing credits and implement a plan to complete your degree, as well as providing guidance as you earn your degree. Browse their online guide to get started with your college search, or set up an appointment by calling 215-498-1504, or dropping into their offices

Graduate!Philadelphia also partners with Philadelphia-area colleges that have excellent support systems and degree options for adult students, such as accelerated programs, and flexible schedules.

Schools for Adults

Below is a list of local schools that are sensitive to the needs of the adult student. Many of these schools partner with Graduate!Philadelphia.

Ready to Learn about Financial Aid?

Understand what resources are available to help you pay for and reduce the cost of college. 

Looking for a college preparatory program?

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