Nearly 60 percent of today’s U.S. undergraduate students are nontraditional learners, according to new research–and institutions can follow a few key steps to support these learners.
Nontraditional students, as noted in the report, are students who are 25 or older, working full-time, are financially independent, or are connected with the military. These students include single parents, immigrants, veterans, and those working full-time jobs.
The Post-traditional Learners Manifesto Revisited: Aligning Postsecondary Education with Real Life for Adult Student Success, from the American Council on Education (ACE), notes that more than 1 million Americans could get out of poverty if everyone in the U.S. 25 years or older, with some college but no degree, earned an associate degree.
3 ways to actually support nontraditional learners
“Helping more non-traditional learners earn a degree would have lasting and transformative effects on our society, economy, and higher education,” said Louis Soares, lead author of Revisited and ACE’s vice president for strategy, research, and advancement. “Of the 23 million undergraduates, more than 13 million are nontraditional learners. Some start a degree but don’t finish it, racking up debt and adding to their financial burdens.”
(Next page: 3 policy areas that merit immediate attention)