Adult learning opportunities exist through state-sponsored programs

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

This year is an exciting time to be an adult learner in Tennessee. Certainly, the importance of adult learners has gained new visibility with the leadership of the Governor and the General Assembly. Tennessee Reconnect, which is part of the “Drive to 55” initiative, has been working in communities around our state to provide adults with the resources to get the degree or credential they been thinking about for years. To reach the goals of the Drive to 55, Tennessee needs to have 55 percent of adults with a degree or credential by the year 2025 to meet workforce demands. We currently stand at about 39 percent. There are 900,000 adult learners in Tennessee who have some post-secondary training, but no certification or degree. To fill and maintain the rapidly changing workforce jobs, we need these adult learners to complete that degree.

Tennessee Reconnect has been working to move South Central Tennessee toward the Drive to 55. The South Central Tennessee Reconnect Community (TRC), with assistance from the Drive to 55 and the State of Tennessee, has been helping people in our area on the journey toward completing a post-secondary degree. Someone thinking about going back to school often wants help determining what that journey will look like and understanding how to break down any barriers that might be a detour to your finishing school and help you find ways to pay for school. Tennessee Reconnect and, specifically the South Central TRC, have been working to address those needs in our community.

Supporting adult learners means supporting people like Christy, who lives in Pulaski. Christy is a 35-year-old single mom with three children that works 40 hours per week. She wanted to return to school so that she could complete her practical nursing degree. Earning that degree would allow Christy to not only earn more, but to be a role model for her teen-aged daughter. Christy has defaulted student loans, she has 45 credit hours toward her nursing degree from three different schools.

Christy visited the Tennessee Reconnect website and was connected with the South Central TRC. With help from one of our advisors, she was able to work out a repayment plan for her defaulted student loans, fill out the FAFSA, and find out that she was eligible for a Pell Grant and other aid that covered her tuition. Her advisor helped her to find other organizations was able to help Christy received additional funding for her books and other non-tuition expenses. The South Central TRC was also able to help Christy find help with child care while she attended classes.

Christy is now two semesters away from having he practical nursing degree. We need more stories like Christy’s in our community. The importance of adult learners has gained new visibility with the leadership of the Governor and the General Assembly. Encouraging adult in your community to “Reconnect” and supporting adult learners, such as your family members, your coworkers, or your neighbors, can help South Central Tennessee play its part in the Drive to 55.

The South Central TRC can provide adults with free resources achieve that goal of completing that certification or degree. Contact us at www.sctnreconnect.org or (931) 286-2616 to work with an advisor.