50-50 Highlights: Colleges for Non-traditional Students

Senior man studing in libraryIn case you haven’t heard, most college students aren’t the traditional 18-year-olds, starting college full-time the fall after they graduate from high school. That’s because the term college students include both part-time and full-time as well as those attending community colleges, for-profit schools, and school that don’t offer degrees.

Ultimately, there really isn’t anything new about the situation. It seems to be reported as some sort of challenge to higher education but that challenge has been around for sometime.

Let’s go over some numbers for today’s college students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, if you only consider degree granting institutions, non-traditional students lose their majority and make up only 39.3% of all college students. If you just look at students attending four-year institutions, you’ll see that students under the age of 25 (traditional) make-up 61.3% of all undergraduates. And if you look at only full-time students, they account for 72.8% of undergraduates.

Still, that means that over a quarter of all full-time students are age 25 or older. And these non-traditional students will likely have different needs than your average 18-year-old. Yet whatever those differences are, they’ll still share the same goal–to graduate.

According to Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates, the average six-year graduation rate for full-time students 24 years-old and younger is 43.4%. For those who start their degree after age 24, the graduation rate is 35.9%. Clearly, there appears to be some advantages to starting earlier.

However, older students are more likely to graduate while going part-time than those age 24 and younger. The completion rate for older students (at any institution) was 27.5% compared to 9.6% for younger students.

For those looking for colleges for non-traditional students, the following table lists the 50-50 colleges where ten percent or more of the full-time undergraduates are 25 years-old or older. Unfortunately, there’s no way on knowing how many of these students are actually counted in the graduation rate since it doesn’t include students who have transferred or returned to school. It only counts first-time full-time undergraduates.

Yet it seems reasonable that colleges with a larger percentage of older students are more likely to provide services targeted for their concerns. As usual, the four-year rate is used for private colleges and the five-year rate for public universities.

50-50 Colleges with Highest Percentage of
Full-time Undergraduates Over Age 24
(download PDF version for a limited time)

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