Who are Today’s Students?

Today’s students come from all walks of life, bringing unique strengths and needs. They are parents, working adults, veterans, online students and first-generation college-goers, following new pathways through higher education. They need a system that is flexible, affordable, and responsive to their needs. But we still rely on policies designed for yesterday’s students and the last century’s economy.

Quick Facts on Today’s Students

Get up to speed on who today’s students really are with these need-to-know data points.

Adult Learners:


of today’s students are older than 25.

Part-Time Students:


of students are part-time.

First-Generation Students:


of undergraduates are the first in their families to attend college.

Low-Income Students:


are at or below the federal poverty level.

Independent Students:


of students are financially independent.

Student Parents:


of students are raising children while studying.

Students of Color: Between 1996 and 2020,

African-American enrollment
grew by


and Hispanic enrollment
grew by


Working Students:



of students work while in college.


More than


post-9/11 veterans have used G.I. Bill benefits to complete their degrees.




of students live on campus.

Paths Through College

The Traditional Path through College

The traditional path to college was straightforward and linear: a student would finish high school and immediately start studying at a four-year college or trade school, enter the workforce or join the military.

Today’s Students, New Pathways

Instead of going to, and finishing, college directly after high school, many of today’s students are returning to get additional education and training while working and raising families or changing careers.


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