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Why More Adult Students Choose Motlow

May 3, 2022

Allison Barton, Director of Adult Initiatives at Motlow.Millions of adults age 25 and older do not have a college degree, according to a recent US Census report. One of the barriers to adult education is that many programs aimed at adults are not set up to serve them specifically. Motlow State Community College continues to challenge the trend by finding unique ways to support adult students and help address their concerns about starting or returning to school.

Motlow is a welcoming, open-access college. We will meet you wherever you are in life and guide you to the completion of your degree or certificate,” said Motlow’s Director of Adult Initiatives, Allison Barton. “We offer flexible schedules and programs for adults, with online classes and degree programs you can pursue on weekends and evenings.”

As part of the onboarding process at Motlow State, each student is guided in the use of DegreeWorks, a web-based education planning and advising tool, to create an educational plan leading to graduation that is individualized to each student’s situation.

Motlow holds information nights that include one-on-one conversations specifically for adults who are considering enrollment in college. Additionally, Barton conducts outreach to recruit adult students, guides them through the admissions and financial aid processes, and serves as a liaison to help adult students navigate any other challenges they may encounter.

“My role is to be a one-stop shop for adults who want to pursue a degree at Motlow,” said Barton. “I work as the liaison to remove barriers for the processes of admission, enrollment, financial aid and other critical areas to ensure a seamless transition for adults into higher education.”

There are many convenient options for adults at Motlow:

“Starting college or going back to college for those who have been out of school for a few years, or even decades, can be a life-changing decision. Motlow is here to help every step of the way,” explained Barton. “A degree or certificate from Motlow increases career opportunities and earning potential. So, if you are looking for a career change, promotion, or to update your job skills, Motlow can give you a competitive advantage in the job market and provide you the skills and knowledge valued by employers.”

Motlow offers guided pathway reforms that improve support for adult students. The College implements these reforms to support different needs with the adult student population and overlapping needs shared by adult and traditional-age students. For example, the ACE program is an adult-centered cohort-based program. It is available at all Motlow State campuses: Smyrna, Moore County, McMinnville, and Fayetteville. Cohort refers to students who begin the program together and progress together, supporting each other throughout the path toward earning a degree in:

Most ACE classes meet one night per week, generally on Tuesday nights or online. Degree completion is possible in approximately 24 months. Motlow’s associate of science degree is designed for transfer to a four-year university, while the associate of applied science degree sends graduates into the workforce.

In 2021, Motlow was recognized by the Community College Resource Center (CCRC) for its:

  • Universal policies and services critical in promoting success for all students, which are embedded in guided pathways reforms (e.g., mandatory college onboarding activities, career and program exploration, advising).
  • Targeted supports recognizing the challenges and opportunities of adult learners (e.g., flexible scheduling, designated point of contact for adult students, family-friendly spaces, and events).
  • Personalized supports tailored to the needs of adults as individuals (e.g., mentoring and coaching, intake surveys to identify students’ needs and interests).

For more information about Motlow’s adult student programs, visit Motlow online at, or contact Director of Adult Initiatives Allison Barton at [email protected] or 615-220-7826.

Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient, and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. The system offers associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs, and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at or visit Motlow at

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