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Who is the ‘Normal’ University Student?

by Monica Smith

Jun 18, 2019, 9:00 AM.

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Traditionally, after high school seniors graduate, they trek to their selected university the following fall to set up their dorm rooms the week before classes. That week, they get acquainted with campus life, away from home. On the first day of school, they find their classes and settle in to begin their full-time, face-to-face, undergraduate degree program.

New Norm

A growing number of college students don’t fit this narrative—they’re nontraditional, they’re the new norm and they’re online.

National Center for Education Statistics on Students

  •  1 in 5 is at least 30 years old
  •       About half are financiallRy independent from their parents
  •       1 in 4 is caring for a child
  •       47 percent go to school part-time at some point
  •       A quarter take a year off before starting school
  •       2 out of 5 attend a two-year community college
  •       44 percent have parents who never completed a bachelor's degree

Schools like Florida International University understand this shift well as many of the university’s more than 57,000 students commute from all over South Florida—they live at home and a great proportion of them also work, so they’re also part-time students.

But the university’s students aren’t just from the surrounding areas. An increasing number of FIU students are international, and they’re keeping pace with their classmates through degree programs that are fully online, while they remain in their home countries.

Access Through Online Education

Technology has allowed for more access to FIU’s degree programs. Over a third of FIU’s students take at least one class online, as the university offers more than 100 degrees, 100 percent online.

Over the last five years, the university has seen the greatest increase in fully online enrollment. And the consensus? Online education offers the diversity and quality experience that rivals on-campus courses, featuring the very same instructors, curriculum and rigor. Also, students may schedule their lives around their studies, which can be accessed online wherever and whenever they need to, to meet course deadlines.

Are You Nontraditional?

Just as the “face” of today’s college student has evolved, so too has education. FIU understands these needs and is dedicated to creating opportunities, developing leaders and encouraging success with every nontraditional student it serves, both on campus and online.