As adults go back to college at increasing rates, Ashley Hudok seeks second career

March 21, 2024 Rich Rezler


Whether they’re looking to make a career switch or want to advance in the field they’re currently working, adults are attending college at an increasing rate.

Amidst this national trend, Washtenaw Community College students like Ashley Hudok exemplify the diverse motivations driving adults to return to college.

Ashley HudokHaving already earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, Hudok has embarked on a new academic journey — one shaped by personal experience and a desire for career reinvention.

According to the latest annual report from the Lumina Foundation, the national post-high school education attainment rate among adults aged 25 to 64 increased from 53.7% to 54.3% in one year.

Overall, that number has jumped by 16 percentage points over the 14 years Lumina has been tracking the data, reflecting a broader shift in societal attitudes toward lifelong learning and career advancement.

Hudok is taking general education courses at WCC with plans to pursue a master’s degree in occupational therapy.

“This is a second career for me,” explains Hudok. “I took some time off when my daughter was born and she had some developmental delays ... I was super inspired by the work they did for her and I thought, ‘This is what I want to do with the second part of my career.’”

Hudok’s story underscores the transformative power of education to inspire individuals to pursue new career paths and make meaningful contributions to their communities. At WCC, she has found a supportive and nurturing environment conducive to adult learners, where both students and staff are dedicated to fostering success.

“I love the energy of the students, of the staff,” Hudok said. “Everyone’s really encouraging and supportive. All of the instructors I’ve had so far have really been understanding and encouraging.”

Indeed, WCC’s instructors demonstrate a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by adult learners, offering tailored support to help them navigate the demands of academics, work, and family responsibilities.

“We’re stretched kind of thin,” Hudok, acknowledging the juggling act that many adult students face. “But (the instructors) know when we’re here, they make the most of our time, and they really just want us to succeed.”

As more adults like Hudok embrace the opportunity to pursue post-high school credentials, they not only enrich their own lives but also contribute to the growing pool of skilled professionals driving innovation and progress in our community.

With institutions like WCC championing their success, the path to higher education remains open and accessible to all who seek it, reaffirming the transformative potential of lifelong learning in shaping a brighter future for individuals and society as a whole.


Visit to download our “Success Guide for Adult Learners” and read more about how WCC supports adult learners’ success




Tags: Adult Learners, March 2024, On The Record

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