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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Going to college with your grandparents?

Forget famous professors, bulging course catalogs, and ivy-cloaked campuses. It's extras like on-campus child care, evening office hours, and commuter lounges that count most with a growing breed of undergraduates: the independent or ''nontraditional" student.

Public universities and private ones, many of which did little for these students in the past, are scrambling to accommodate them because their numbers have become far too large to ignore. Broadly defined as financially independent, working adults, nontraditional students age 25 and up now make up 38 percent of postsecondary enrollment, compared with 28 percent in 1970, according to US Department of Education estimates. On many campuses, they have become the majority. Only about a quarter of the nation's 14.9 million undergraduates fit the ''traditional" mold of enrolling right out of high school, attending full time, and relying on their parents' purse strings.

''We have this island of mature adults in a sea of kids," said Bradley Keith, 41, who just completed his bachelor's degree at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, which gives nontraditional students preferential placement in classes to accommodate work schedules. ''It's the little things like that that really make a big difference."

Keith, who starts working on an MBA this fall, just stepped down as secretary of UNH's nontraditional student organization. One of the group's main purposes is to combat the isolation older students often feel.

READ: Colleges offer extras to lure older students

Comments: Post a Comment

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