Social costs associated with returning to school included decreased time for family, personal, and social time. Observations of lack of sleep, increased stress levels due to financial constraints, and multiple demands on their time were also reported. The majority of adult learners in the survey have found social supports from family, friends, classmates and instructors. Many are experiencing new social networks and report feelings of personal satisfaction and increased self-esteem and self-confidence because of their return to formal education as an adult.
Goal-Setting is definitely influenced by the amount of financial and social support received by the individual. Over one-third of participants in the study reported that they have adjusted their career and educational goals due to limited financial resources. The resources they would most like to see in place call for a thorough reexamination of present forms of emotional, financial, academic, program design, and government policy support offered to residents of this province.
The implications of this research project for those involved in adult education fall into three categories: implications for the learner, review of external supports, and suggestions for internal program examination. How does the learner decide when the financial and social gains outweigh the costs? How can governments address the financial gap between those receiving financial supports and those who do not? When does the future economic gain for our economy justify additional resources for adult learning? How does an adult education program maximize social support for students enrolled so they can continue to be successful on the path of higher education? Such considerations are vital for cultural, economic, and social growth of the province in a world that is changing so fast that literacy and the business of learning is one of the most important commodities we have.