adult learner Challenges

Adult learners face a unique set of challenges as they complete their degrees. Some of these include school-life balance, financing education, confidence, and accessibility. Some students have gone back to school after many years and face even more difficulties adapting to modern technology and its implementation in the classroom. These challenges can sometimes delay or hinder a student's completion of their degree.

Mentorship for Adult Learners

Peer mentorship is one way to help adult learners feel a sense of belonging that will help them succeed. Adult learners are often matched with young alumni who have shared similar experiences, such as finishing school while having a full-time job or taking care of a family.

Shearwater and Adult Learners

Shearwater partners with universities to help provide personalized support to adult learners at scale.

  • Common reasons that pairs are matched: Same department, career goals, or life experiences, like whether they have children. 
  • Common topics of discussion: Balancing work, school, and family, building a sense of belonging with other adult learners, and career development. 
  • Common modes of communication among pairs: Text-messaging, videochat, emailing.

University College
at Washington university in St. Louis
and Shearwater


University College at Washington University in St. Louis has been helping adult learners access higher education for over 100 years. Shearwater and WashU's University College have partnered to support up to 475 continuing education students. This program provides both degree and certificate seeking students with mentors to help them persist, succeed, and graduate.