Counseling and Postsecondary Education Transitions

This resource examines the role of counselors in adult education that facilitate the transition of adult learners to postsecondary education. 

C. Moore
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
California Department of Education
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Product Type
Target Audience

The author cites statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and emphasizes that in order to meet the current and projected skill demands of the workforce, today’s jobs require a credential beyond a high school diploma or GED. Adult educators should be responsive to the needs of adult learners in helping them reach their goals and in making successful transitions from adult education programs to postsecondary education.

This digest points out that most of the research on transitions focuses on high school students transitioning to college. Recent research indicates that socioeconomic disadvantages and other non-academic risk factors negatively affect the adult learner’s ability to persist in postsecondary education. Citing research by Bedolla (2010) indicating that non-academic factors may trump academic preparation in determining successful transitions, the author makes a convincing case for guidance and support services and delineates various roles that counselors must fulfill.

The resource offers the following recommendations for adult educators and counselors and suggests that their services:

  • be flexible and convenient
  • draw on the strengths and coping skills that learners already possess
  • provide the resources and information needed by learners
  • follow a case management model
  • work to remove barriers and
  • prepare learners to successfully compete with the traditional student.
Required Training


What the experts say

Transitioning students to postsecondary education has become the focus of many adult education policies and programs. The author points out that there are significant gaps in the literature about the role of counselors in adult learner transitioning. The role of the adult education counselor is defined as providing services from intake to goal setting to relationship building to follow up – within the adult education program and with postsecondary institutions and other social service providers.

The bottom line is that in today’s economy, more jobs are available at levels requiring a credential beyond the high school diploma or GED. If adult learners are going to be able to earn family sustaining wages, they will need to transition to and succeed in postsecondary education. The role of the counselor is one that can help the student to overcome barriers and navigate a new system.

Although the information in the digest is not new, it is a good informational resource for programs that are new to counseling and transitioning and can help to provide a framework and rationale for the services to be provided. Readers will find a good compilation of information and recommendations relating to this specific component of transitions programming.

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