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Embracing Lifelong Learning: Harrisburg and Allentown Shine as Prime Destinations for Adult Learners

New study highlights the best cities across the U.S. to go back to college

By Pam JannesPublished 4 months ago 3 min read
Photo by Headway on Unsplash

The traditional notion of higher education being exclusively reserved for the youth is rapidly evolving. In the ever-changing landscape of the job market, adult learners are steering the course of education in new directions. Adult learners are now emerging as a transformative force in the field of education, actively steering the course toward new horizons. This shift is driven by the dynamic changes in the job market, where continuous learning and upskilling have become indispensable. Within Pennsylvania, two cities, Harrisburg and Allentown, have emerged as frontrunners for adult learners seeking to enhance their knowledge and skills. According to a recent study by Grand Canyon University, these cities have secured positions in the top 10 and top 15, respectively, for adult learners looking to embark on an educational journey.

Harrisburg: A capital of education Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has earned the prestigious ninth spot on the list, boasting a remarkable city score of 69.20 out of 100. With approximately 47 free Wi-Fi hotspots per 100,000 residents and 98% of the population having access to one gig internet, the state capital offers an inviting environment for adult learners. Residents in Harrisburg are paying about $63 per month on average for their internet. Beyond connectivity, Harrisburg's thriving academic landscape and strong commitment to adult education are the key drivers of its success.

Pennsylvania has made significant progress in supporting adult learners through initiatives like the "Education Access for All" program. This vital endeavor focuses on removing financial barriers that often hinder students. By bolstering graduation rates within the state's community college system, Pennsylvania showcases its dedication to adults seeking further education. These efforts underline the state's commitment to lifelong learning. Pennsylvania as a whole has demonstrated a robust dedication to supporting adult learners.

To assess and identify the cities most conducive to adults returning to college, the study meticulously analyzed ten essential factors across the 100 most populous metropolitan statistical areas in the United States, using Census data as its foundation. Each factor received equal weight and was scored on a scale that ranged from zero to five, with a perfect score of 100 symbolizing the most favorable conditions for non-traditional students. Harrisburg's impressive score of 69.20 stands as a testament to the supportive environment it offers for those seeking to return to school.

The state just launched a new project, “PA MASLOW: A Hierarchy Of Collegiate Basic Needs,” which aims to help colleges identify ways to help students access basic needs while in school. Pennsylvania state education officials said PA MASLOW will help higher education institutions across the commonwealth better support students, provide guidance and access resources.

Allentown, not far behind, claims the 15th spot on this list, presenting itself as an excellent choice for adult learners. Its scenic beauty and a city score that resonates with those eager to continue their education make it a compelling destination for those looking to enhance their knowledge and skills. Coffee shops are well-known as the perfect studying spot– Allentown boasts over 11 coffee shops per 100,000 residents.

Additionally, 87% of Allentown adult residents have a computer and an internet subscription. Allentown residents pay a little more on average than Harrisburg residents for their internet– Allentown residents pay about $65 per month on average for internet monthly. Allentown scored 59.85 out of 100, symbolizing a conducive environment and city for adults wanting to go back to school.

The study's comprehensive methodology encompassed various facets that collectively shape the educational experience for adult students. These aspects ranged from the availability of universities to the ease of accessing online resources, all of which contribute to the enriched learning environment within Pennsylvania. The study also included aspects like the ratio of students to faculty members and the average graduation rate, as well as other factors, so the data is as all-encompassing as possible.

The commitment of Pennsylvania to adult learners remains steadfast, and Harrisburg and Allentown serve as shining examples, offering inclusive, welcoming environments for those embarking on their educational journeys. These cities have seamlessly woven together accessibility, abundant educational resources, and robust community support to create an ideal setting for adult learners who are driven to achieve their academic and professional goals. Indeed, Harrisburg and Allentown epitomize the belief that learning knows no age, and the pursuit of knowledge enriches both individuals and communities alike.


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