I have been finding some very informative summaries of the signficance of the nontraditional student for universities and their enrollment managers. For example, did you know that the traditional, 18-22 year old students living on campus now comprise less than 16% of the total population of college and university students in the United States, and that this number is expected to decrease for the foreseeable future? By far, the bulk of the potential students coming into our hallowed halls of education (many of them virtually through online learning offerings) do not fit the traditional model. The last article listed below (by Peter Stokes, from Eduventures) provides a great wake-up call for us.
I have referenced a 2002 report from the department of education in a previous post that profiles the huge numbers of nontraditional students in the U.S., and it gives a good list of what traits characterize a nontraditional student. These newer articles do a good job of encapsulating what these numbers should mean for those of us trying to reach this huge group of nontraditional students with distance/online learning.
This article has some good practical information: “Changing Demographics: Why Nontraditional Students Should Matter to Enrollment Managers and What They Can Do to Attract Them.”
This is a very insightful article by the InsideTrack organization: “The Future of Non-Traditional Higher Education in the United States.”
Eduventures has released this article: “Hidden in Plain Sight: Adult Learners Forge a New Tradition in Higher Education.” This was one of the more useful articles for me.