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For many older and working adults, college is a different culture, one that seems impossible to join, let alone complete. Yet, research tells us that completing at least some college is key to getting and keeping a living-wage job in the U.S. in the 21st century. That is why President Obama made a commitment to help a greater proportion of U.S. adults go to college.
The Adult Transitions Longitudinal Study (ATLAS) is a five-year research project to understand the educational and economic outcomes of adult students who aspire to go to college. This longitudinal study is funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The goal of the ATLAS study is to inform policymakers, program practitioners, students and potential funding agencies about the educational trajectories of adults who prepare to go to college, and the factors that make it easier or harder for them to do so.
Our research question is: What are the outcomes of participating in the Adult Basic Education-to-College Transition Program, and what are the factors-individual, program, college-that influence those outcomes?
Starting in 2007, we began collecting data from 226 adults who participated in a 15-week college preparation course (called the Adult Basic Education-to-College Transition Program) to help them get ready to enroll and succeed in college.
Our participants are: 1) adult students who have dropped out of high school and later earned a GED (General Education Development) certificate; 2) high school completers who did not go straight to college after secondary school; 3) immigrants to the U.S. who want to go to college here. The ABE-to-College Transition Program helps these adults improve their academic and study skills, learn about financial aid and the college application process, and understand about the new world of college that they will be entering.
By the end of 2011, we will have collected information each year from these adults to see if they applied to college, attended college, dropped out, re-enrolled or stayed continuously enrolled and/or graduated, and what helped or hindered them in their educational trajectories.Return to top of page.
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