The New Non Traditional Student

The traditional path for achieving success in the workforce is that as income increases with level of education attained. Students who complete high school and go on to complete a college degree will be more successful in the workforce than students who only complete high school, and students who complete a graduate degree will have even more lucrative careers than those that only complete a bachelor’s degree. While this model for success my hold true for a large segment of the population, I talked to two community college instructors over lunch on Monday December 6th at the Big Ideas Fest who reported an increase the number of students achieving success by pursuing a non-traditional path.

The community college instructors explained that an increasing number of students are returning to community college to complete associate’s degrees after having already completed a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year university. These students are returning to community college because they have been unable to secure employment with their bachelor’s degree. They have selected an associate’s degree because their program prepares students for a clearly defined career path upon completion. These students who were previously unable to find employment with their bachelor’s degree are quickly able to find employment in stable and sustainable career, such as nursing or real estate, once they are equipped with an associate’s degree.

What are your personal experiences with the utility of higher education in the workforce? Do these new non-traditional students represent a small minority of the student body, or a growing segment of the student body?