Retaining Non-Traditional Students | Student Success Handbook | D2L
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Section 3 – How to Retain Non-Traditional, First-Generation College Students

Who are non-traditional and first-generation college students?

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, non-traditional students are typically over 24 years old, have family and work responsibilities, and are looking for degree programs that are flexible in terms of how courses are delivered and how quickly they can be completed.

Non-traditional students are a growing demographic74% of all 2011-2012 undergraduates had at least one non-traditional characteristic—looking for opportunities to complete their degree, enhance knowledge and skills associated with their current career, or acquire new skills and knowledge so they can switch careers.

First-generation college students are often defined as learners whose parents did not enroll in post-secondary education institutions. According to the Postsecondary National Policy Institute, first-generation students are more likely to be older and have dependents than their non-first-generation peers.

In many cases, first-generation learners face additional academic stress in traditional post-secondary educational settings, including things like a lack of parental involvement, financial constraints, non-traditional family structures, conflicts with college culture, insufficient academic preparation and limited knowledge about college.

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