Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education


Workforce Education and Development

First Advisor

Hagler, Barbara


Adult learners, particularly working adults pursuing higher education, face barriers which may be different from their traditional counterparts. In addition to issues of time and money which many students find challenging, working adults also balance job responsibilities and may have to juggle family responsibilities. These barriers, combined with the fact that some higher education institutions are still not fully recognizing this growing student population in regards to scheduling and services, leave working adults with limited access to higher education opportunities. This study was conducted in a rural Midwestern area which, like much of the United States, had experienced an economic downturn. Research was conducted using two groups of working adults within a 60-mile radius of Southern Illinois University Carbondale: those who were currently enrolled in a degree seeking program and those who were not currently furthering their education but may have had a desire to do so. The goal was to gain understanding about the demographics of these two groups, the barriers that may hinder their educational goals, and what higher education institutions can do to address those barriers in order to develop the knowledge and skills of working adults educationally with a goal to, in turn, develop the regional economically and educationally.




This thesis is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.