According to a new article in the Wall Street Journal, “‘Non-Traditional’ Students Are Majority on College Campuses.” As Ben Casselman puts it:
29%:The share of college undergraduates who are traditional students.
The word “college” tends to call to mind images of fresh-faced young students studying, living and, yes, partying on or near leafy suburban campuses. But that picture only describes a small fraction of the nation’s 18 million undergraduates—even though such students dominate the public debate over the value of a college education.
While there are certainly more nontraditional college students now than in past years, a trend likely spurred by the proliferation of for-profit schools and the country’s economic decline, this is actually not news.
It might even have been true before that. American adults have studied in vocational institutions and training centers for most of American history. It’s only recently, since World War II, that we’ve considered “higher education” to mean both traditional 4-year colleges and work training centers and classified everyone taking a course somewhere as a “college student.”