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Today’s Students: Separating Fact from Fiction

Higher education’s value can’t be overstated. Even though the value of college is well appreciated, many often hold an unrealistic image of the realities faced by today’s college students.

As Dr. Daniel Greenstein, director of postsecondary success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, notes, today’s college students will be better served if we develop a more accurate understanding of who they are and the hurdles they overcome. Dr. Greenstein, who will deliver the opening keynote at this year’s CAEL International Conference in November, identifies that the success of students today is contingent on letting go of outdated notions we may hold of them.    

Echoing a fact we’ve recently touched on, today’s “traditional” student looks remarkably different than the traditional student of years past. As Dr. Greenstein points out, 40 percent of college students today are 25 or older and 60 percent of students live off-campus. These facts demonstrate the need for courses that fit today’s students’ busy schedules.

The population of today’s college students is also more diverse than ever before. With 40 percent of today’s college students persons of color, more than 30 percent the first in their family to attend college and 30 percent with a family income of $20,000 or less, it’s crucial that we acknowledge student demographics that are rapidly growing and the challenges they surmount.    

Click here to read Dr. Greenstein’s article in its entirety.


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