Non-Traditional Students On The Rise

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For many students, college is the first step after high school and a lot of fun.  From Greek life, to college parties, to living in the dorms, it is a new social scene with many people their own age.  A majority of these traditional students study full time and graduate in four years.

However, for many of us this is not the case.  Many students today are “non-traditional” college students.  After surfing the internet I have found quite a few definitions to describe what this means.  To me it means a working student who is not living in campus housing. Other definitions included students that did not graduate with a high school diploma, students that are also parents, students that are not enrolled full time and students that are going back to school.

I am what many would consider a “non-traditional” college student.  I do not live on campus, attend college parties, or belong to a sorority.  Instead I work six days a week, taking mostly online college courses to accommodate this, and study non-stop.  I live off campus in a house that I work hard to maintain.  For me, there is no choice of having a social life.  My life is simply work and school.

This is becoming the norm for many of today’s college students.  Although there are still thousands of teenagers graduating from high school every spring and moving into the dorms in the fall, we are seeing a trend of more and more “non-traditional” students attending college.  In fact a study by the U.S. Department of Education found that the fastest-growing group of college students is adults over 25 who are working and raising families.   As the economy continues to bottom out, there is a large influx of students coming into college because they have been laid off from their jobs.  This is bringing a totally different demographic into college campuses.

So what does this mean for colleges, universities, and their students?  It means change.  In the past five years colleges have made some major changes to try and adapt to the new student demographic coming in.  Many colleges now offer an online program so that working students can have more flexibility in their schedule.  Colleges are also offering night classes and short semesters in order to be more accommodating.  There is also a change becoming more apparent in the classroom concerning how teachers actually teach.  Classes are getting more hands-on and more relevant to how things are done in the workplace.  Even large universities are starting to look more and more like career colleges.

I think that the rise of the “non-traditional” student is great.  If you are a teenager in college who is just planning to breeze through, it can help to have a hard working mother of three sitting next to you.  The “non-traditional” students of America deserve a lot of respect.  They are working, raising families, and continuing education.  It is a great example for us to set for future generations and I hope that the trend continues.

 

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