Non-traditional students are one of higher education’s fastest-growing groups, and with data indicating that most of these students feel unsupported, institutions are stepping up strategies to help at-risk non-traditional students meet their academic goals.

A new Barnes & Noble College report reveals that non-traditional students who do not participate in extra-curricular activities, who spend minimal time on campus, who pay for school independently, and who have a negative experience with a school support system or service are more likely to be at risk of not graduating.

A previous Barnes and Noble College study of nearly 800 non-traditional students as a whole revealed that nearly twice as many non-traditional students are at risk of dropping out when compared to traditional peers.

The report notes that the number of non-traditional students is projected to increase more than twice as fast as traditional students from 2012 to 2022, according to the CLASP Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success. And because non-traditional students are among the fastest-growing student groups, this means schools face retention challenges.

Only 37 percent of at-risk students said they feel confident they will accomplish their educational goals, and 33 percent of those at risk participate in extra-curricular activities, compared to 62 percent of non-traditional students who are not at risk of not graduating.

The at-risk group spends less time on campus–10 hours per week compared to the 16 hours per week that non-traditional on-track students spend on campus.

(Next page: 5 strategies to support at-risk, non-traditional students)


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