College Students Shed Traditional Image

Career College Central summary:

  • The idea of a college student spending four luxurious, carefree years studying is sorely outdated. Of the more than 20 million students enrolled at thousands of two- and four-year colleges and universities across the nation, only about one-third fit the traditional description.
  • About 40 percent of all college students are older than 25, according to US Education Department data. More than a third attend classes part-time. Nearly 20 percent work full-time. About 60 percent enroll at four-year public and private schools, while the rest mostly attend community colleges or enroll at for-profit colleges. Very few attend the well-known universities topping the US News and World Report rankings.
  • As the number of traditional high school graduates shrinks, colleges increasingly have had to recruit from places other than high schools to keep their student numbers constant and ensure a steady stream of funding. Many schools have stepped up overseas recruiting — the number of international students increased 35 percent between 2000 and 2012 — and reached out to the ever-growing number of Hispanic students and wooed transfer students who collect credits from a number of colleges. They also are going after ‘‘nontraditional’’ students, a pool that continues to widen.
  • To be considered nontraditional, students must have at least one of these characteristics: delayed attending college, attends school part-time, works at least 35 hours a week, is financially independent, supports a family, is a single parent, or did not earn a formal high school degree.
  • ‘‘Nontrads’’ often face many more challenges than traditional students, but when problems arise, it can be difficult or impossible to find help on campuses geared toward a younger crowd. Nontrads are at high risk for dropping out or taking far longer to graduate.

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