Today's non-traditional student: Challenges to academic success and degree completion

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Inquiries Journal

Publication Date


Date Added



Academic success among nontraditional students appears to be correlated with several biological, psychological, and social factors. Nontraditional students are more likely to leave school due to conflicting responsibilities (work, parenting, caring for an elderly parent), or because of a lack of support from their home educational institution (Eppler, Carsen-Plentl, & Harju, 2000). Nontraditional students are less likely to complete their degree programs, and have lower attrition rates compared to traditional students (Taniguchi & Kaufman, 2005). While nontraditional students constitute a significant portion of postsecondary schools’ consumers, institutions have not sufficiently accommodated the needs of this population. Many higher education institutions implement policies such as open admissions and part-time enrollment to attract nontraditional students, yet a discrepancy in degree attainment between traditional and nontraditional students remains (Taniguchi & Kaufman, 2005). In order to address the discrepancy, postsecondary institutions must acknowledge the factors that influence the success of their growing populations. Additionally, institutionalized practices should be adjusted to address factors that negatively impact nontraditional students.


Education, Economic Advancement



Comments/Extra Notes

Additional authors: Watkins-Lewis, Karen