Are You a Nontraditional Student?


group of nontraditional students

Are you a veteran or someone looking to enhance or change your career? Maybe you’re a grandparent, a single parent or someone returning to college after stopping to raise a family.

If you’re not a typical college student (just out of high school and living on campus), then you’re considered a nontraditional student.

According to the NCES, the nontraditional student population is the fastest growing population in colleges and universities. The latest data show that in 2011, 74 percent of undergraduate college students fell into the nontraditional category.

Nontraditional students are defined by their enrollment patterns, financial and family status, and high school graduation status. While there’s not an exact definition of a nontraditional student, the National Center for Education Statistics uses three main criteria to define the term ─ enrollment patterns, financial and family status, and high school graduation status.

The following are seven characteristics common to nontraditional students:

  • Didn’t attend college immediately after graduating from high school
  • Attends college only part time
  • Works full-time (35 hours or more per week)
  • Financially independent
  • Has children or dependents other than a spouse
  • Is a single parent
  • Has a GED, not a high school diploma

Do one or more of these characteristics describe you? If so, you’re a nontraditional student.

If you think that leaves you in the minority, think again.

According to the NCES, the nontraditional student population is the fastest growing population in colleges and universities. The latest data show that in 2011, 74 percent of undergraduate college students fell into the nontraditional category.

Furthermore, about one in 10 nontraditional students choose online courses as their route to a degree. So, as you can see, your circumstances may not be as uncommon as you might think.

While being a nontraditional student may present its own special challenges, it’s comforting to know there are others like you seeking similar goals.

PACS has been providing quality, accessible education for nontraditional learners since 1961, so you can rest easy knowing PACS will be there every step of the way, working to give you the support and help you need to make your college experience a success.

Learn more about the services PACS has to offer nontraditional students.

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The College of Professional and Continuing Studies is a fully accredited academic unit of the University of Oklahoma, offering 100% online, hybrid and onsite degrees for working adults and non-traditional students.