The typical college student has changed a lot over the past few decades. No longer just an affluent, young white male attending a selective institution, the typical college student commutes, works full-time, and attends school on a part-time basis. The entire makeup of the “traditional” student is evolving to embrace people of all backgrounds.
The Typical Campus: Not Just Ivy League
Nearly 42% of students attend a public two-year college, while only 3.5% attend a private, four-year liberal arts and research college. Public four-year colleges remain popular, with public four-year research institutions capturing 10.8% of students,and other four-year public institutions taking up 18.1% of the population. Other private four-year institutions account for 9.2% of student attendance, and for-profit institutions take up 9.8%. The overwhelming majority of attendees at for-profit schools are female, while liberal arts colleges attract the youngest student populations.
Demographics: Age, Gender, and Race
If you are a woman, you are more likely to attend a less-selective private college, community college, or for-profit institution, as 56.9% of these institutions are female. Only 43.1% of males attend these institutions.
In terms of age, more young students (age 15-23) attend selective private institutions at a percentage of 59.7%. Older students (age 30 or above) attend community colleges and for-profit institutions, at a rate of 23%.
Looking at the racial demographics of most college campuses, the majority of students are still white at a rate of nearly 61.8%. Students with more than one race make up 24% of college campuses, African-American students account for 14%, and Hispanic students make up 5.9%. American Indian or Alaska Native students account for .8% and native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students account for .7%.
Raise Your Hand: How Attendance Shakes Down
At four-year colleges and for-profit institutions, most students attend full-time, while 60% of community college students attend on a part-time basis only. Here’s how attendance breaks down:
Show Me the Money: Students and Income
College is no longer exclusively for students from wealthy backgrounds. In fact, almost half of all students come from families making less than $40,000 per year. In contrast, students from homes that make $120,000 or more per year only represent 10% of the entire student population.
So what does this mean for students considering higher education? Well, the definition of the “traditional” student is changing drastically. More students from less affluent families are choosing to attend college, and many of them are choosing to do so on a part-time basis only. The very definition of “college” is changing too. In fact, the traditional four-year, ivy-covered campus is making way for for-profit institutions, community colleges, and public institutions that offer more than a liberal arts education.
This means that more students from wide-ranging backgrounds are choosing to attend institutions of higher education – not just private institutions, but a wider variety of educational options as well. In other words, college is now for everyone, not just a select few on a select few campuses.