Higher Education Student Demographics Show Wide Variety

Welcome to the new school year. Whether you are a student just starting out, or an employer whose employees are heading back to school, you are in good company. Higher education student demographics show that many nontraditional students share similar, lifestyles, obstacles and opportunities. Today’s higher education student demographics are wide, varied and very inclusive. It’s clear that in higher education today, everybody belongs.

Kim Cook, the executive director of the National College Access Network, an organization that works to improve college access, says that a few decades ago it was normal for students to go to college straight from high school. But things began to change in the early 1980s. Post-secondary education became a requirement for the majority of jobs. That’s when students of all types began going to college to get the skills they needed to compete in the job market, changing today’s higher education student demographics, he says.

These student demographics help define today’s learners:
• 38 percent are older than 25
• 58 percent work while they are in college. Of these 40 percent work at least 30 hours per week and 25 percent work full
• 26 percent are raising children
• 40 percent attend college part time
• 18.8 percent of first-time college students are the first generation in family to attend college
• 62 percent of undergrad students enrolled at 4-year institutions (2015)
• 38 percent enrolled at 2-year institutions
• 47% are financially independent, not supported by parents
• 75% of college students commute to class
• 22 percent of American adults have earned some college credit but no degree

However you look at these statistics, whatever characteristics you or your employees share with other higher education students, these figures are important. They matter to the individuals they represent, they matter to the schools they attend and they matter to the growth of United States economy.

It is important for adults today to attain higher education that lets them complete in the job market. By 2020, 65 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education. Without an associate’s degree, individuals stand to miss out on $500,000 in lifetime earnings. Without a bachelor’s degree they miss out on $1 million. And the losses are not just monetary. Students who don’t complete their degree don’t reach their full potential in terms of lifestyle such as living with better health, greater longevity, and higher civic engagement.

On the flip side, helping individuals reach their full potential impacts them, the businesses they work for, their communities and the global economy. And one way to reach people who are part of these wide and varied higher education student demographics is through employer tuition assistance plans.

Educating workers will ensure employers that they have employees with the skills to advance their businesses a competitive market. These employees will contribute to the economies they live in with increased economic activity and higher tax revenues. When businesses support their workers with tuition assistance plans, it helps ensure that the obstacles they face won’t be as likely to cause them to stop out of higher education. Tuition assistance means that students can continue to take classes in spite of childcare costs, housing, transportation and everyday living costs. For first-generation college student who are largely minority populations, tuition assistance means that growing minority populations have a better chance to reach their potential for individual success and full participation in the society.