George Mason University is the top school in the Washington, D.C., area for adult learners, according to Washington Monthly’s annual examination of the nation’s colleges and universities.
Mason’s commitment to serving adult students puts it at No. 6 nationally as a four-year institution for adult learners. It is ranked 18th in the Southeast in the “Best Bang for the Buck” category. Mason is also ranked 51st among national universities, up eight spots from last year, and is considered one of the 80 best colleges nationally for student voting.
“Serving adult learners requires the willingness to think differently,” said Michelle Marks, Mason’s vice president for academic innovation and new ventures. “Adult learners have very specific needs. They are often balancing education with full-time jobs and family, so they need flexible and affordable options for learning.”
Through initiatives such as the Online Virginia Network, and graduate courses offered through a partnership with John Wiley & Sons Inc., Mason has vastly expanded its online offerings, which cater to adult learners.
Mason also has the Online Adult Student Information Service, a one-stop shop for all information relevant to completing an academic degree at the university.
“To successfully serve adult learners, we have to be willing to fit inside their lives,” Marks said. “They need to be able to study when it’s convenient for them. We have to constantly challenge how and why we do things, and we’re doing that at Mason. We are continually developing how we can better meet their needs.”
Metrics used in the evaluation by Washington Monthly include ease of transfer and enrollment, flexibility of programs, services, the percentage of adult learners (25-and-up) at an institution, graduation rates of part-time students, mean earnings of adult students 10 years after entering college, loan repayment rates five years after entering repayment, and tuition and fees.