The term 'nontraditional student' is extinct

Dive Brief:

  • Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics outlines the growth of nontraditional learners on college campuses nationwide, eCampus News reports.
  • According to the data, about 74% of all undergraduates enrolled during the 2011-12 academic year possessed at least one characteristic of a nontraditional student, denoted by part-time enrollment, working full-time, identifying as a single caregiver, not having a traditional high school diploma, or financial independence.
  • Nontraditional students are statistically the most likely to enroll in at least one online course. 

Dive Insight:

This gives new insight into the lifestyle of nontraditional students and the challenges that present obstacles to college completion. The lifestyle of caring for children and working full-time against trying to successfully complete coursework now shows why colleges are having a more difficult time graduating students in six years, in addition to the bigger challenge of minimizing student loan debt and maximizing job attainment for graduates. 

Schools must adapt to the changing student profile by examining ways to streamline coursework, introducing more competency-based learning modules for remedial or introductory courses, and exploring credentialing options to replace core major competencies so that the new "traditional" learner has an equal chance for success.

Filed Under: Higher Ed Policy & Regulation