Adult Learners

ABLE.jpgHigher education is accessible to all Ohio residents, not just students graduating from high school. Non-traditional students with personal and professional demands on their time, who want to advance their skills, pursue a new career, or finish a workforce certificate or college degree, can take advantage of many programs designed to work around their unique circumstances.

Refreshing Your Skills to be a Lifelong Learner

Aspire (formerly known as ABLE) provides free services for you to sharpen your academic, work and college-readiness skills before or along with continuing your pursuit of a postsecondary degree or workforce certificate. It also assists you if you need an Ohio High School Equivalency Diploma (GED®) before continuing your education. Services include:

  • Basic math, reading and writing skills
  • Adult secondary education/GED® preparation
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
  • Transition services to post-secondary education/training and employment
  • Family literacy
  • Workplace education
  • Distance education

When you are prepared to move to the next step, learners have access to a seamless career pathway by easily transitioning to a workforce certificate or degree program. Local Aspire programs collaborate – often co-locating – with Ohio Technical Centers, community colleges, universities and their regional campuses, allowing continued access to services over a lifetime of learning and career advancement.

To find an Aspire Program near you, click here for locations by county.

Choosing the Right Program for You

Many adult learners want to ensure that their postsecondary training will help them obtain a job for an in-demand career or advance their current careers while building on their personal talents and interests. The Ohio technical centers, colleges, and universities offer a wide array of programs that can meet those needs. In addition, adult learners are often balancing work, family, and other responsibilities, and they need flexibility in their busy schedules. Below are some options that you may consider:

Weekend/Evening Classes

Many schools offer flexible alternatives to weekday classes to accommodate working students. Almost all colleges offer some online courses. Other schools offer evening classes and specific weekend degree programs. Use the links below to explore your options.

Postsecondary Workforce Certificates

Postsecondary workforce certificates are offered in specific occupations and usually cost less and take less time to complete than two or four year degrees. Ohio technical centers (also known as adult workforce education) provide postsecondary workforce education certificates at locations across the state. There are 56 easily accessible locations in Ohio which offer career counseling, financial aid assistance, job placement assistance, and more. Many colleges and universities also offer workforce certificates in workforce development centers and academic departments. In many instances, the technical center or college workforce certificates can transfer into credit toward a degree program. Please see the links below to explore postsecondary workforce certificate programs.

Credit Transfer and Credit for Prior Learning

If you have military experience, skilled work experience, or previously attended college, there may be ways to earn credit for what you have done. Please visit Ohio Transfer to Degree for more information about applying military experience, technical center training, and previous post-secondary education to earn credit toward your workforce certificate or degree. Also ask your college or university admissions officer about assessments for prior learning such as the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) that may be available for students to take to earn credit for knowledge they have obtained through work or school.


Before you enroll in college, check to make sure the institution is accredited. Accredited programs meet specific quality criteria. If your institution does not have accreditation, then:

  • You may not be able to receive federal financial aid.
  • You may not be able to transfer your credits to a different college or university.
  • You may not be able to find a job in your field, especially if you are considering certified trades.

Asking about college or university accreditation during the application and admission process will help you avoid these pitfalls. The Ohio Department of Higher Education maintains a list of accredited colleges and universities in Ohio in addition to the state's public institutions.

Supporting the Needs in Your Life

Child Care Options

Recognizing that balancing college and a family can be difficult, many schools offer child care options for students. Some offer discounted rates at local child care centers while others may offer additional student aid to cover cost of child care. Use the link below to start your search for schools with options which will work for your family.

Workforce Support

One-Stop Centers across Ohio can assist adults with finding a job while in school or connecting with support resources as they use training to transition to employment. Tuition for some postsecondary training programs may be covered for eligible students through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and other training dollars at One Stop Centers. Find the one-stop center near you at the link below:

Paying for College

Financial aid and scholarships are available for adult learners at many institutions. See the page link below: