Should higher education rethink what makes a “traditional” student today? Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on students applying for financial aid highlight the ever-increasing need for colleges and universities to diversify their programs and make more available online education.

The data, culled from the most recent student financial aid information (2011-12), and discussed in the NCES brief, “Demographic and Enrollment Characteristics of Nontraditional Undergraduates,” examines prevailing characteristics in enrolling students, and argues that knowledge of these characteristics should further urge institutions to diversify their services.

The brief begins by differentiating traditional and nontraditional terms as researchers...

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