"For colleges and universities to succeed today, treating nontraditional students as the norm is becoming quite important. With college enrollment declining over the past five years, looking to engage students who have often struggled in traditional academic settings might be a way for universities to increase their success," Megan Bogardus Cortez writes for EdTech: Focus on Higher Education.
"Here are four ways universities can make sure they are meeting the needs of these so-called nontraditional learners:
1. Know Who Nontraditional Students Are
The term nontraditional can be a bit nebulous. A report from the American Council on Education defines these learners as students who are age 25 and older, working full time, financially independent or connected with the military. These students can also be parents. Recent data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that 26 percent of undergraduate college students have children.
Even two years of college can make a significant impact on the lives of these students. ACE’s report, 'The Post-Traditional Learners Manifesto Revisited,' found that nontraditional students who earned an associate degree are less likely to be unemployed and less likely to live in poverty.
2. Know What These Students Need from Education
To better serve students with a multitude of priorities outside of education, ACE suggests that colleges provide 'a more flexible learning ecosystem that is distributed across different life stages, places, times, platforms and experiences.'
Weber State University, which was named the best two-year college for adult learners by Washington Monthly magazine, leveraged its knowledge of its students’ needs to create an online platform that facilitates flexible learning.
'We’re trying to raise the six-year graduation rate — online plays a key role in that,' Bruce Davis, Weber State’s dean of online and continuing education, tells EdTech. 'It provides flexibility if you need to take an extra course a semester to speed your time to completion.'"
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Publication Date: 1/5/2018