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Adult Students are Becoming the New Norm

When thinking of entering college, one might imagine young students arriving on campus, moving into their dorms, and saying goodbye to their parents. However, over the years this image has shifted because of the increasing number of adult students arriving on campuses across the country.

In a 2018 National Public Radio (NPR) article, Today’s College Students Aren’t Who You Think They Are, authors Elissa Nadworny and Julie Depenbrock state that research shows that “non-traditional” students are becoming a decent majority on college campuses. These students are not so “non-traditional” anymore and have the ability to surpass the number of traditional undergraduates.

Many students fall into several different non- traditional student categories that include: having a child or other dependent; lacking a traditional high school diploma; delaying postsecondary enrollment; attending school part time; or being employed full time. The NPR article provides a shocking statistic that states “close to 74 percent of undergrads fall into one of [the non-traditional student] categories and about a third have two or three.”

In 1969, Immaculata University established the Evening Division to service adult students seeking an undergraduate degree. Since then, the University has been offering career-focused programs in a variety of flexible formats for adult students who need to balance work, family, and school responsibilities. Many colleges are just breaking into the adult education market and often are unsure how to serve this population. However, the staff of the College of Adult Professional Studies (CAPS) understands the needs of this population and is doing all they can to provide students with the resources and help they need to succeed. For example, faculty and staff encourage all students to participate in campus events – both academic and social – to enhance their learning experience and become more involved on campus. Adult students are also encouraged to seek induction into applicable national honor societies.

“We started the adult education programs in 1969, long before it was popular to talk about the ‘non-traditional’ students,” says Kate Kearney, dean of CAPS. “For almost 50 years, we’ve known what many universities are just figuring out – these individuals, who have a wealth of both professional and personal experiences, greatly enrich our campus and our classrooms. They are an integral part of the future of the university and are some of the hardest working, best students you will ever meet.”

Whether you are a community college graduate, a first-time college student, someone who has been away from college for a while or utilizing military benefits, Immaculata’s supportive environment will help you succeed in achieving your academic and professional goals.

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