February 24, 2024

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non-traditional

A non-traditional student is an American term referring to a category of students at tertiary educational institutions. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) acknowledges there is no precise definition for non-traditional student, but suggests that part-time status and age are common elements. In a 1996 study, the NCES included anyone who satisfies at least one of the following as a non-traditional student: Delays enrollment (does not enter postsecondary education in the same calendar year that he or she finished high school) Attends part-time for at least part of the academic year Works full-time (35 hours or more per week) while enrolled Is considered financially independent for purposes of determining eligibility for financial aid Has dependents other than a spouse (usually children, but may also be caregivers of sick or elderly family members) Is a single parent (either not married or married but separated and has dependents) Does not have a high school diploma (completed high school with a GED or other high school completion certificate or did not finish high school) By this standard, the NCES determined that 73% of all undergraduates in 1999–2000 could be considered non-traditional, representing the newly “typical” undergraduate. Therefore, the NCES defines non-traditional on a continuum based on the number of these characteristics present. Students are considered “minimally non-traditional” if they have only one non-traditional characteristic, “moderately non-traditional” if they have two or three, and “highly non-traditional” if they have four or more.

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