What many think of as a traditional college student—one who lives on campus, attends classes full time, and doesn’t need to work much—accounts for just 25 percent of those in higher education today, a new report says.
The study by Complete College America, a national nonprofit group based in Washington, notes that three-quarters of students are college commuters, often juggling families, jobs, and schools. Four in 10 attend part time.
The demographic shift has significant implications for completion, says the report, which is based on self-reported data from 33 states.
One such implication is a lengthening of the time it takes for students to earn a degree: While getting a bachelor’s degree should take four years, it takes full-time students on average 4.7 years and part-time students 5.6 years.
The report also offers ideas for smoothing the college-completion pathway for this “new normal.”
A version of this article appeared in the October 05, 2011 edition of Education Week as College Completion