Traditional College Students Not So Traditional

As part of my reporting on an upcoming piece for the NYT Education Life Supplement, I was fascinated to find out that the "traditional" 18-22 year old students and public and private two- and four-year institutions that we all probably think make up the largest portion of the postsecondary world are not, actually, typical. Oops.

So-called traditional college students -- full-time, 18-22 years old, residential, etc. -- make up only 16 percent of college students, according to the folks at Eduventures who research this stuff. More than half are older, and part-time. Roughly a quarter of them are taking all or part of their courses online. A million (and growing) attend for-profit institutions.

That's just the start of it. Beyond the 17 million students counted by IPEDs (the data system that tracks students attending Title IV eligible institutions, there are another 85 million or so others that are involved in other forms of postsecondary learning -- much of it corporate training that could, but doesn't, go to university continuing ed departments.


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