October 27, 2017
Understanding the experiences of "non-traditional" college students
By Dina Blum
Program Officer, Education

No two college experiences are alike. But there’s also diversity in how students get to college, and how their arrival affects their experiences on campus.

Last week, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a groundbreaking study showing how part-time and transfer students are progressing toward graduation. Historically, the federal government has only compiled data on graduation rates for “traditional” students who enroll in college immediately after high school, ignoring the experiences of wide swaths of the college population. This is the first time the government has collected data on “non-traditional” students who don’t fit the first-time, full-time mold.

Over the past 10 years, the population of part-time and transfer students has surpassed that of full-time students. It’s an important step forward that the field is starting to recognize that “non-traditional” students are in fact the majority, and meeting their unique needs is critical to ensuring their success. It’s important to continue collecting data on these students to find out what drives them to graduation, and how educators can support them every step of the way.

We are developing our own strategy to help non-traditional students and historically marginalized students have a better higher education experience. Watch this space for more details.

Meanwhile, check out Gigi Jones piece breaking down the new data in more detail.