College campuses today are catering to a growing number of nontraditional adult students. According to The National Center for Education Statistics, a nontraditional undergraduate is defined as someone who:
- Did not immediately continue education after high school graduation
- Attends college part-time
- Works full-time (35 hours or more per week)
- Is financially independent
- Has children or dependents other than a spouse
- Is a single parent
- Has a GED, not a high school diploma1
The term "nontraditional" also includes "non-completers," those who did not graduate high school in a typical four-year fashion. Instead, they may have received their GED, or perhaps they are currently enrolled in another high school equivalency program.
Contrary to what the name may suggest, non-completers can make excellent students for your college. Having realized the value of education, they are motivated to improve their circumstances. They are actively looking for options to pursue continued education.
However, non-completers face a number of obstacles preventing them from getting their high school diplomas or equivalent to further their education and change their futures. These barriers include a lack of financial resources, complex home and life responsibilities and little emotional and societal support. In addition to these challenges, recent elimination of the Ability to Benefit program and increased difficulty of the GED exam is keeping non-completers from continuing their education. According to USA Today, in the five months following the January 2014 changes to the GED, fewer people across the nation took and passed the test.2
" I tried to apply in the culinary program, but found that I didn't have the credits that I needed to graduate. Then I was made aware of the Penn Foster program, and that I could get an actual diploma instead of a GED. It gave me confidence and the work knowledge which I use now."
Nina Aguirre " Penn Foster Graduate, IOT Culinary Student
Career colleges have an unmatched opportunity to provide solutions that remove these obstacles for non-completers while benefiting their own academic organization as well.