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There is no such thing as the prototypical college student. Even though we usually think of a college student as an 18 year old graduating from high school, immediately enrolling in college, and completing a bachelorís degree within 4 years, this is hardly the norm. In fact, three of four students do not fit this pattern. The new college student is:

  • The adult with "some college" returning to complete a bachelor's degree after dropping out a decade before

  • The high school dropout who obtains a GED and completes a career certificate as a nurse's assistant

  • The dislocated worker who needs to restart his career through an academic program that will offer the skills he needs to reenter the workforce

With a broader, inclusive view of what a postsecondary student looks like, states must consider whether their policies and strategies engage all students. While states have been proactive in developing adult-friendly programs and in supporting pre-college outreach efforts, they will not reach their completion goals without significantly increasing participation and degree attainment rates for underrepresented groups, namely low-income and older adults and students of color.


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