Posted by Christy Williams on May 26th, 2016
Every school is known for something. Whether it’s academic rigor, robust sports programing, social activities or the number of graduates entering their field each year, the lists are seemingly endless with bragging rights and potential. However, the pathway of learning is changing and now encompasses more nontraditional students than ever.
Students are not all going to college right after high school or secondary education completion. Instead, many are entering the work force, traveling or starting families right away. As a result of this shift, institutions have begun to focus on meeting the needs of nontraditional learners. The characteristics range from blended attendance arrangements to flexible scheduling; even to part-time and abbreviated program options.
Several schools have accepted the challenge of reaching non-traditional students. Among the highest ranking are University of Texas at Dallas, University of Utah, University of Massachusetts – Lowell, Regents University and Ohio University. Each of these schools boasts a nontraditional student body of 25% or higher and offers favorable programming options for nontraditional students.
1. University of Texas at Dallas is a state school offering a wide range of online and evening classes. In addition to the traditional degree programs, the college offers a number of self-paced online programs and a Business Foundations Certificate. Business, Communications and Engineering are among the most popular courses of study.
2. University of Utah offers continuing education courses in hybrid and online learning formats. The courses offer professional training and certificates with the most popular areas of study being Mass Communication, Kinesiology and Psychology. Additionally, the college offers a program geared specifically towards learners over the age of 50 and hobby based non-credit courses such as gardening and cooking.
3. University of Massachusetts – Lowell provides hybrid and completely online formats for undergraduate and graduate programs. There is also an advisory support system in place for Continuing Education attendees. The programs also boast a low student- faculty ratio to promote interaction.
4. Regents University focuses on busy professional learners with accelerated programs. The school also offers on-campus or online learning options. Business, Health and Liberal Arts are the most popular disciplines.
5. Ohio University converts some applicable professional experience into college credits for learners. Through consultation with an advisor, nontraditional students can choose a degree path to best meet their needs. Prevalent programs include Communication, Liberal Arts, Nursing, and Psychology.
Nontraditional students are adults, usually 25 or older, that have taken time away from their educational pursuits. Embarking on the journey to begin or continue an undergraduate degree requires additional consideration. Colleges and programs must be flexible to meet the needs of this demographic. Characteristics such as hybrid, online and evening learning formats recur throughout the top ranked schools. These aspects make it possible for nontraditional students to find a program that both meets their academic needs and fits their lifestyles. This flexible programming leads to more nontraditional learners obtaining training, certificates and degrees towards greater career success.