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CAEL Pathways Blog

New Normal' Students See Unique Challenges, Opportunities

It's been clear for some time that today's so-called 'traditional' student is not the traditional student of yesteryear. Recently, NPR further challenged the status quo of what today's students really look like, taking a look at a group of students who represent the 'new normal.' As the article notes, ridding ourselves of the notion of the non-traditional student is useful for more than just semantics purposes. By recognizing that today's students are more likely to be older, institutions can implement policies that reflect the realities that older students face.   

Childcare, student loans and full-time jobs all can present challenges for adult learners, potentially hindering their chances of completing their degree.    

Fortunately, students have options to overcome these challenges, including earning credit for knowledge they've already gained and for skills or competencies they've already mastered. Of course, institutions have a part to play in serving adult learners by ensuring that they have policies in place to meet the needs of older students. As demonstrated by Washington Monthly's recent Best College for Adult Learners ranking, it's apparent that institutions are beginning to meet those needs by:

  • Offering courses with flexible schedules;
  • Providing childcare services;
  • Charging lower tuition rates; and
  • Granting advising opportunities that respond to issues adult students are more likely to face   

To read NPR's full article on the changing landscape of today's student population, click here.

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