A persistently large share of the U.S. adult population has started college and earned some credit but has not yet realized the myriad premiums available to those who have completely a degree. In fact, forty-five million adults 25 and older in the US have earned some college credit but have not yet earned their degree. This relatively invisible group represents 20% of the adult population; Black adults and adults of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity (any race) are disproportionately represented among those who started college and have not yet completed their degree. Until we substantially decrease the number of adults who have some college but no degree (SCND), our work in education attainment is far from over.
“These adults represent a tremendous pool of untapped potential. These are people who could – in less than four years – be working as nurses, teachers or engineers. They just require some navigation assistance to find the path back that works for them.”
— Sallie Glickman, Co-founder of The Graduate! Network
For over a decade, The Graduate! Network has inspired communities, states, practitioners, and higher education institutions to establish practices in support of the educational aspirations of adults, whom we celebrate and call “Comebackers.” In a report completed with funding support from the Ascendium Education Group, we trace the journey of such individuals. “The Comebacker’s Odyssey” includes a literature review, a quantitative analysis of the Network’s program data and National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) enrollment records, and qualitative analysis of interviews conducted with Comebackers and questionnaires fielded from higher education partners. Based on the findings from this report and the cumulative experience over the years, The Graduate! Network has identified the following top policy and communication priorities that would enable students to return to college and complete degrees: revamp the Pell Grant Program, eliminate debt traps, and increase use of employer-offered tuition assistance plans.
“I was at the door. [My Navigator] was the key that enabled me to turn that lock and open that door. I’m forever grateful for Cedric [Deadmon]. He moved mountains for me.”
— Craig Toombs, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO, 2019 (KC Degrees)
Read about the journey, challenges and successes these individuals encounter in “The Comebacker’s Odyssey”, inspired by the stories and data from eight communities that utilize the Network’s community-based neutral navigator model.
The Graduate! Network is proud to release The Comebacker’s Odyssey.
The Graduate! Network’s research is based on those sites that have a common core: institution-neutral navigation; services to adult learners; some aspect of practice that is focused on degree completion; and aligned service flow and data collection practices. These communities include: College Now Greater Cleveland (Cleveland, OH), Detroit Drives Degrees (Detroit, MI), Graduate! Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA), Greater Minds Spokane (Spokane, WA), KC Degrees (Kansas City, MO), Mission Graduate (Albuquerque, NM), Education 2 Employment Partners (Corpus Christi, TX) and Upgrade (San Antonio, TX). We are grateful to them for sharing their Comebacker data with us, and without them this report and our Data That Move Us work would not be possible.
For a full list of communities, States, organizations, and institutions that have engaged with the Network in support of educational access, equity, and completion for Comebackers, we invite you to view our map.
Help us spread the word by utilizing our social media toolkit. The toolkit contains several pre-made social media posts for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, making it quick and easy to tell your social network about our newest report. Click the button to access the toolkit and helps us share The Comebacker’s Odyssey!
New and Coming Soon!
We’re excited to announce our brand new Data That Move Us website. The new website will include data highlights, key findings and discoveries from our research and several ways for our community to get involved including partnering with The Graduate! Network, coming on as a funder, or simply engaging with and sharing our publications and upcoming podcast series.