University Bound: The Non-Traditional Student Version

Not all university bound students are “traditional” students or students who graduate from high school and enter directly into college. Non-traditional students are typically students who are adults and working professionals. They may also be older students who have not yet finished their degree program and earned their initial degree. Whatever the case may be, many non-traditional students want to be university bound, and earn their first degree or an additional degree. You may be considered a “non-traditional student” if you:

Delay initial college enrollment or do not enroll in a college or university in the same calendar year as you finish high school.
Attend a college or university as a “part-time” student for at least part of one academic year.
Work full time (considered to be 35 hours a week or more) while enrolled in college.
Do not have a high school diploma; you may have completed high school with a GED or not completed high school at all.
Are a single parent with dependants or has dependents other than a spouse.
Considered financially independent when determining financial aid eligibility.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) notes that while there is no concrete definition for atypical students, age and part-time enrollment status typically help to identify those students who are non-traditional.

Additionally, if a student fulfills at least one of the previously mentioned criteria, they are likely a non-traditional student. It may be difficult for non-traditional, working students to find the time to attend college. Because of this, many of these non-traditional students can attend classes through an online school. Online education caters to non-traditional students, allowing them to access their coursework 24/7, learn at their own pace, and complete their degree program on their own time.

Because there has been such a surge in university bound non-traditional students, many prestigious ground schools like Harvard, Fordham, Columbia and the State University of New York have implemented programs specifically designed for adult learners and other non-traditional students. These programs allow non-traditional students to take classes with other non-traditional learners or with mainstream students. With programs such as these, university bound non-traditional students have options.

While these ground school programs are extremely beneficial, online education remains the frontrunner in terms of educating university bound non-traditional learners. Because online education is so flexible and accessible, non-traditional learners, who wish to be university bound, can take their classes, complete their course work and study at any time that they wish. Many non-traditional learners are working adults who hold a 9-5 job and want to go back to school to earn their first degree or an additional degree.

The recent surge in online education has allowed many non-traditional learners to go back to school while maintaining their current job and other responsibilities. Like ground schools, online colleges and universities offer university bound students a number of degree program options, financial aid opportunities, and student services.

For hopeful university bound non-traditional students, there are many options for returning to school. University bound non-traditional students should take care in weighing their options before choosing the online or ground school program that is right for them and their future.