Editor’s View: Roughly 40 Percent

By Katrice Mines

Roughly 40 percent.

That’s the number of college students studying for an undergraduate degree who fall in the “non-traditional” category.

So, who is non-traditional?

An increasing number of factors now come into play when classifying students who didn’t enter college directly following high school graduation; but most often age is the determinant. Non-traditional as a segmenting, however, is almost inaccurate as the new normal is a majority population of students over 25 on both two- and four-year college and university campuses. According to 2011 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 17.6 million undergraduates with 38 percent of those enrolled in higher education being over the age of 25 and 25 percent over the age of 30. And schools have taken note; the attrition of recent high school graduates entering campuses has been on a constant spiral.

While fewer high school students may be looking toward college because of the recession’s impact on their families’ finances, others, already in the workforce, are choosing to pursue a degree for the same reason — hard times. The focus: getting a job or a better one.

A good friend of mine returned to college in May after suspending her bachelor’s degree studies more than 20 years ago and has undertaken her pursuit with a focus sharpened by two things — a desire to prove to herself that she can do it and, more importantly, to widen the range of professional opportunities available to her. She is balancing a full-time course load with full-time employment. Is it the way she envisioned earning a bachelor’s degree? No. Is it worth it? “Yes. Very much so,” she says.

We had students like her in mind when we pulled together this year’s scholarship guide. There’s money for everyone. Literally.

Also, in this issue …

Our 2014 minority business owners of the year Lisa Jones, Troy Robinson and Kanchana Raman have stellar reputations with both their customers and the corporations with which they partner. Business is good all the way around.

Are your customers changing faster than you are? Are they learning faster than you are? Ask yourself these two questions and then read Kamille D. Whittaker’s piece “Reinvent or Die” for what to do with your answers. The future of your business is now. AT

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