Guest Commentator: Juliana M. Mosley, Ph.D., Chief Diversity, Inclusion & Community Relations Officer, Chestnut Hill College @ChestnutHill

How can higher education institutions be a resource to employees who have been laid off or furloughed and may be looking to continue their education or pivot their careers?

History shows that during an economic downturn, people decide to bounce back by beginning or returning to school. According to the National Student Clearing House, there was a 16-percent increase in college enrollment during the Great Recession of 2008, with most of the increase represented by adult learners (age 25 and older). Locally, the Pew Charitable Trusts indicated that 17-percent of Philadelphian adult learners – about 176,000 people – had earned some credits toward an associate or bachelor’s degree during that same time, but had not attained either one.

As people are thinking about their future beyond COVID-19 and how to adjust to a new normal, education may very well be part of the equation as history has shown. With unemployment numbers reaching new highs, and layoffs, furloughs, and positions being eliminated, many are encouraged to explore new possibilities, change careers, find a hobby, or learn a new skill.

Whether it involves completing a degree, earning a certificate or starting a new degree (bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate), what better time than now? With the internet a finger-length distance away, any college/university degree can be accessed within seconds.

Adult learners generally fall within three categories: no college; some college, but no degree; or advanced degree seekers. In any of those scenarios, those deciding to seek a degree or certification should also consider what works best for their lives, their schedules, their experience, and their learning style.

The ‘Apply Now’ button can be clicked as soon as one is ready but be sure to consider a few things when making the decision to further your education as an adult.

Most higher education institutions moved to online learning in the spring in the wake of the pandemic and are required to continue for summer sessions. While schools contemplate next steps for fall, following federal and state guidelines, one should be aware of all instructional delivery options, which include: face-to-face (day, evening, and Saturday classes), online, and hybrid — a blend of face-to-face and online instruction.

In considering undergraduate or graduate studies, be mindful of the holistic application review process. Many institutions are increasing emphasis on reviewing the full scope of an applicant and not weighing admissions solely on past academic performance or entrance exam scores.

While transcripts serve as educational resumes, tracking the completion of courses, earned grades and credits, and prior learning assessments (PLA) are also considered. PLA refers to a process used by colleges and universities to award academic credit for a student’s knowledge and expertise acquired through life and professional experience.  If starting from scratch with only a GED or high school diploma, or a bachelor’s and years since graduation, applying for an undergraduate or graduate degree program is possible given this process.

Anyone can make the decision to enhance their career or life through the advancement of education. Research what institutions have to offer (academic programs, adult learner support services, financial assistance and scholarships, and application procedures/requirements), decide, and apply.

More than 6 million people nationally, including the 750+ enrolled in Chestnut Hill College’s Accelerated Adult Degree Program and School of Graduate Studies, took the journey this academic year to further their education as an adult student. For our students, the programs have been transformative. Join them and start the process today.

For more more information about Chestnut Hill College and our program options for adult learners, visit And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Chestnut Hill College is a member of the Chamber’s Roadmap for Growth Action Team, a group 110+ Chamber members and partners united to engage with a broad range of civic and neighborhood organizations in the development and execution of policies and initiatives, known as the PHL Neighborhood Growth Project.

Upcoming Event

[Virtual] Job Opportunities in a Recovering Economy: A Roadmap for Growth Issue Forum
Thursday, June 4, 2020 | 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | Held via Zoom

At this virtual Roadmap for Growth issue forum, hear from community partners who are working with displaced workers on job training and placement as well as employers who are upskilling employees from within to fulfill the unique needs that have arisen in a post-crisis, digital world.