Meet & Greet with Education Provider: College for Adult Learning
We interviewed Sarah Sabell, CEO of College for Adult Learning (CAL), and Jenni Simmons, long-time career coach, to learn what it’s like to study as a student at CAL.
In this interview-style roundtable, we’re exploring CAL’s teaching philosophy as well as their student-centric approach and dedication to getting students job-ready in today’s market. Join us as we unravel what makes CAL a great place to study and discover the benefits of upskilling with a reputable institution.
Can you describe CAL’s teaching philosophy or approach to education?
Sarah: We’ve always focused on the adult learner and their needs. The adult learner is a complex learner; they bring varying degrees of diverse work experience, complicated and busy lives, a history with formal learning, and different levels of confidence. For these reasons the education system that supports the adult learner needs to provide an elegant solution in order to be able to deliver the ongoing skills development they need today and tomorrow.
We have never subscribed to the one-size-fits-all approach to delivery and assessment. This approach to learning is no longer appropriate – if it ever was. Instead we need a flexible, tailored approach so we can constantly re-diagnose learning needs, evaluate learning outcomes, and re-design methods of delivery.
Sarah is a passionate advocate for learning and education. She brings a wealth of expertise in workplace training and work-ready education to CAL. She has a deep understanding of the challenges facing CAL’s students, which allows her to lead effective solutions to address learning difficulties.
“Learning isn’t going to be, nor should it be, easy so don’t go for promises of cheap, quick, fast-tracked, or easy. Go for quality learning outcomes and look for flexibility”Sarah Sabell, CEO of CAL
What makes your courses stand out from other education providers?
Sarah: One major difference is that we write all of our units in-house. We also actually mean it when we say we offer flexible 1:1 programs which means no cohorts, no semesters, no group due dates or classes. This means our support is tailored to the individual as well. Our focus is on our learners, not what’s convenient for us.
Our content and our assessments are rigorous, and we don’t apologise for that – we want CAL graduates to be work ready today and employable tomorrow. Learning new things is hard, and we don’t turn away from hard things!
How does your institution approach course for students who may need to balance work or family obligations with their studies?
Jenni: Our courses are fully flexible and designed to meet the needs of each individual student. We recognise that many of our students are juggling work, family commitments, social lives and their study and that this can be challenging. So there are no set classes or training schedules to comply with.
Each student receives an individual learning plan tailored to meet their goals and available time for study. This gives them end dates for each unit to work towards, which is important for progression, but it is flexible and can be scaled up or down to adapt to any changes.
We also offer a deferral and extension to accommodate holidays, medical situations, or to allow extra time for study, and course transfers. This allows students to change direction and study a different qualification to the one they enrolled in originally.
Jenni is CAL’s Career Coach, and has worked in the learning and development consulting and coaching space for over 25 years. In that time she has worked across corporate government and small business environments, supporting all levels of the workforce, from frontline staff all the way up to senior managers.
Jenni has been part of the CAL team since 2017 and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work so closely with students to help them achieve their career goals.
“Our aim is to meet the adult learner wherever they are to create lifelong learners who can continue to upskill for the rest of their working lives…and beyond.” Sarah Sabell, CEO of CAL
What kind of resources and support services are available to students throughout their course?
Jenni: We have student success advisers who are there to guide our students throughout their whole study journey at CAL. We understand that Students come from different paths in life and want to ensure they are comfortable and confident to start their studies.
Throughout their course, students can reach out for support for any units or assessments in their studies. Anytime students have questions or need further explanation in their course they can reach out using the method that suits them best: live chat, email or booking a call.
How does CAL approach student assessment and feedback, and how does it ensure that students receive fair and constructive feedback on their work?
Sarah: Our assessment process adheres to the principles of assessment; fairness, flexibility, validity, and reliability as well as the rules of evidence; validity, sufficiency, authenticity, and currency and we run internal moderation sessions with our team to ensure consistency in results and feedback.
What’s more interesting than compliance though is our rigorous approach to assessment. We assess the technical skills required for a job or role and the interpersonal skills that are transferable across industries and jobs. In addition, we use real-world scenarios; either our case study or a student’s workplace and offer Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) unit by unit or for a whole course
How does CAL support students with job placements and career progression?
Jenni: When a student first signs up for their course, we ask them what their primary motivation is, so we can make a note of this in our system and refer back to it during their studies – it helps to have an idea of their career goals from the outset so we can support their achievement and help them retain their motivation to complete their qualification.
We provide complimentary career services to all students throughout their enrolment, including: a careers hub unit, containing tools, templates and 35 topics to help them manage their own career including career planning, personal branding, networking and interview skills, free resume and cover letter review service, and complimentary career coaching calls
What does success look like for your students? Can you give an example?
Jenni: A great success story is about Tracey who was one of our students enrolled in a Double Diploma of Business (Administration) and Leadership & Management from 2018-2020. Tracey had worked as a manager in hospitality (accommodation) for 23 years, and when the business was sold, she needed to upskill to transition to a new industry.
She worked hard and learned not only skills relevant to business management and leading people, but she learned about how to sustain motivation and discipline to complete her course, digital skills, time management, project management, and organisational skills.
She utilised the free career coaching and resume review services, and this led to the opportunity to apply for a job here at CAL after she had completed her course. She was successful and is now one of our most valued team members, in the role of Student Success Team Leader. Tracey now supports other students to achieve the same success that she did!
Sarah: We had a student a while back who was really nervous about starting a certificate IV in HR. She’d not had a great experience with formal education and hadn’t studied since high school so her learning self-efficacy was low, she was also running the books for her husband’s business hence wanting to formalise her skills and knowledge.
After a slow start and lots of support – with the content and learning, she got through the certificate. Then she enrolled in, and successfully, completed the diploma. Seeing her confidence grow was fantastic but what was even better was when years later she contacted me to let me know that she had gone on to successfully complete her graduate diploma and master’s degree in HR! This is success to me!
The College for Adult Learning (CAL) stands out as a reputable Australian education institution that prioritises the needs of adult learners. Dedicated to their student-centric approach, quality learning outcomes, and course flexibility, they’re an excellent choice for individuals seeking to upskill or kickstart their career. Browse and enrol in a CAL course today.
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