traditional college students-not so traditional after all...

Admittedly, this is an old article, but it’s new to me…and as a chronic, older, part-time student, I was really surprised to find that being a chronic, older, part-time student.
From the article:

So apparently the majority of bachelor’s degree holders in this country actually do not get their degree four years after high school, the way society rather expects people to.

The article goes on to talk about how higher education really isn’t set up to deal with students like us, also how a lot of kids graduate without being academically prepared.

I think colleges are getting better about that, but not as good as they could be…and the prices just keep shooting upward, ever upward. Also, I agree that credits REALLY should be transportable-THAT would make a vast difference.

But I shall leave you to the article:

How many get it after 5? How many graduated HS a bit late (perhaps due to things which can’t even be considered “a failure” by anybody with a working brain, such as having moved a lot, having immigrated as a child, etc.)? It makes me think of the current Spanish government’s definition of “failing school” as “not graduating university in the minimum possible time or less”, which was not the usual Spanish definition at all (the “or less” is because they were doing things like count 5-course-years engineering degrees as needing 5 years, when the coursework is followed by required research which usually takes 1-2 years more).

Also, if that 10% is of the total, it’s about 30% of the people who got college degrees. The article, and any discussion on it, need to work on several different levels; at the very least:

  1. is it “necessary” or even “normal” to have a 4-year degree? Apparently it’s not normal. And if 2-year degrees, vocational training et al are to have any worth by themselves, it shouldn’t be “necessary”. Is someone who got an Associate’s within 2 years of leaving HS not a traditional student, just because he chose a shorter degree? Is that degree all of a sudden worthless? Why give it, then?
  2. when people decide to take 4-year degrees, how normal/necessary is it to do it straght out of high school?
  3. How normal is it to, whenever you do it, take 4 years?

Also, does the article take into account people who got degrees outside the US, either immigrant or American-born? I strongly suspect not.

In a recently-read *Science *or C&EN article that I’ve since thrown out and can’t find online (I’m pretty sure it was C&EN), I think I read that ~50% of all college students are enrolled in 2-year colleges.

About transportable credits, it’s difficult because schools vary so greatly in quality. When I was an undergrad we could take classes at the Ivy down the road, but it was discouraged (although I just checked and that no longer seems to be the case) and generally seen as an easy way out of avoiding a difficult class. A sibling of mine took a few science classes at a 2-year college in TX after finishing undergrad (she was bored and interested in some other topics). They were an absolute joke and easier than her high school classes.

I knew someone who taught both at that same 2-year college and at UTEP, and he said his students at the 2-year were better :eek:.

Due to overcrowding, in many state Us you almost can’t graduate in 4 years just due to the inabliity to get into all the necessary classes during just 8 semesters. That hardly makes the kids fresh out of high school graduating from U after 4-1/2 or 5 years “non-traditional” students.

My vote is for a badly written article which misuses (presumably) accurate numbers to mistate the underlying realty.

I’d go so far as to say that most students at most universities take 4 1/4 or 4 1/2 years to finish their undergrad. I know I did.

The college I went to actually went so far as to require five years of classes (due to a co-op job requirement) for a lot of majors. Calling those students non-traditional completely misses the mark.

Credits *are *transferable (which I assume is the word you’re looking for). That’s what makes them Credits - the school has been accredited by an outside regional institution so that (among other benefits) their students’ Credits will transfer to any other school also accredited by that institution. Of course, they have to be for a class that’s substantially the same - you can’t get Credit for Intro Biology from FU transferred as credit for Biology for Medical Majors at WtF, because the education covered in the two classes are not necessarily the same.

*Hours *aren’t always transferable. Hours are the measurement of class achievement a school uses when they don’t have accreditation. If your school is not accredited, it is not legally allowed to offer “Credits”, but will probably use “Hours” instead. But *Credits *are transferable; that’s why the system was created. (Well, that and to suck large amounts of administrative funds from schools, but I digress…)

Credits are *theoretically * interchangeable between schools and hence fully transferrable.

IME what happens in the real world (at least in the US) is that most colleges apply some discount when accepting credits from elsewhere. So two full years at ABCU will transfer 2 full years less 2 classes to DEFU. Even if the classes and majors involved are broadly the same at both institutions.

Going from GenericStateU to Harvard will probably involve a bigger discount than going the other way, but even so it’s not likely that you can transfer 100% of your Harvard credits to GenericStateU.

I found the article I mentioned. link Except that’s from 2009, so either I was reading a really old magazine or they did an update recently that I can’t find.

I was close, it’s >45% of the college students in the US that are in community colleges.

Credits are often *NOT * transferable. Barring specific arrangements otherwise, recognition of courses taken at other institutions is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Colleges will often limit the number of credits that can be transferred or will deny credit to courses taken under certain circumstances (e.g., classes at an accredited institution while still enrolled in high school) or for courses deemed not rigorous or advanced enough.

There is less or even no lost credit when transferring between schools that have transfer agreements. This is often the case when transferring between state-run 2-year and 4-year institutions.

Having attended 6 different colleges in pursuit of my BA, I’m one of the most transferrin’est students I know. All of my credits transferred each time except for a knifemaking class I took that had no equivelant, and some of my theater classes transferred as generic electives into my art degree program.

When I hear the phrase “non-traditional student,” it makes me think of people in their late 20s and up going back to college. I’d be surprised to hear that the majority of people think that kids who took a year (or 2) off between HS and college are NTSs.

My university defines “nontraditionally aged” as over 25, so students who took a gap year and / or took an extra year to finish their degrees don’t count. We still get a whole bunch of genuine nontrads, though, and I’d say that the students who are having a fully “traditional” college experience, in the sense of living in the dorms or apartments close to campus, getting involved in campus activities, and having college be the focal point of their lives, are a definite minority.

There’s that, but (as someone who finished her Bachelor’s in 3 years), there are other things at play.

First, people change. College students may change majors, and by doing so, end up delaying graduation a semester or two, if the selected major is different from the one the student entered by originally. For example, someone switching from English to engineering, especially after the first year has passed, may take longer to finish due to pre-requisites that need to be done first that were not required for the first major.

Second, many degrees now have so many requirements, and classes may count towards different requirements, that planning a course load requires some thinking, even if all the classes are available and there is no overcrowding. Many have computerized programs and advisors that can help students plan out their course, but not all of them may take advantage of them. There is also the chance that the advisor may screw up (unintentionally) the student’s schedule and tracking. Heck, it happened to me my first semester in college. Instead of really challenging me, they tried to “dumb it down”. Guess what, that was one of the worst semesters in my college career. My 19-credits semester? One of the highest GPAs.

Third, to continue on that last sentence, many colleges have “credit caps”. I know the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at University of Florida had it. I had to go to the main office every year and ask nicely to the lady to please remove the cap and increase it to 21 credits (I never did get that high, btw). But the usual cap is 15, which limits the courses a student can take in a given semester, and may delay graduation even more if courses are full or the student changes major.

Fourth, many colleges are now requiring students to do at least one summer semester, and that is a good thing, but many students still skip that and other universities do not do it. I took two summers, and that is why I finished early. Some of the “extended summer” classes are about as long as the regular semester (12 weeks vs 16 weeks). Skipping summer classes again, is not helpful.

Fifth, and this is a big one… TIME FREAKING MANAGEMENT!!! Seriously… I mean, if I wanted classes to start at 9am, end at 3pm, and give me a two hour lunch break, I’d probably hadn’t been able to finish on time (or even delayed, required courses were only offered really early morning). For many semesters, I had classes that started at 7:25am. OTOH, I scheduled my classes so I was never in class past 5pm, and that was a rare ocurrence (usually labs). Sometimes I had random free hours. Some semesters I didn’t have a “lunch hour”.

To those who said research is not possible… I took research credits my first summer, and again my second summer. I was an unpaid research assistant my senior (third) year. I worked at a veterinary clinic 10 hours /week, also unpaid. I volunteered at the animal shelter around 3-5 hours a week. I volunteered at the veterinary clinic at home during my holidays.

I sincerely believe time management is a big reason many students don’t finish in 4 years. Especially since many of them already enter school with AP, CLEP, or IB credits, or are permitted to skip introductory-level classes because of previous work while in high school (dual enrollment, honors courses, good SAT I and SAT II scores, etc.).

Is it non-traditional to also be there when you’re below the age of most? I was born in the late spring and graduated high school a year early, so I was 17 for my first 2 semesters.

I’m like you ~ three junior colleges and two four-year universities and twelve years later, I finally got a bachelors degree. The problem was that by the time I was close to graduating, classes I had taken a decade earlier were no longer transferable.

Also, when I started, I was working full time and could only attend classes in the evening. Back then (twenty years ago), a math class would be Monday and Wednesday from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and the English class would be Tuesday and Thursday. For years, I could only take two classes a semester, going to school four nights a week.

Now they do make it easier for folks who have to work full time, but it was incredibly hard for those of us who could not afford to attend school full-time.

My sister and I took 5-year programs and my brother is going to graduate a bit late because his prerequisites got messed up when he transfered universities(his first university didn’t offer a course in first year that ended up being a prerequisite for a course he was supposed to take in second year at his new university, and things dominoed from there). I have a hard time calling any of us non-traditional students.

I think college has changed since I went. When I went the idea behind college was to teach you how to think and make you a better educated person. It wasn’t to get you a job. That is what a technical school was for.

Now students don’t go to college to improve their mind, but rather to get a job. They seek out colleges with the idea that the label of that college will get them more money.

I’m not saying this is bad or even wrong, but that’s not how the traditional colleges were designed.

Colleges and universities have become trade schools or tech schools, at least where bachelor degrees are concerned.

I heard this a lot from private schools when I was in 12th grade and trying to pick a school. I ended up going to a state university - one of the campuses of the University of California - and graduated in slightly less than four years (I went in with one trimester of credit under my belt thanks to AP tests, and somehow managed to stay one trimester ahead the entire time, so I graduated in March instead of June). I never heard of classes being particularly overcrowded, and after my freshman year, I realized that even a class being full was no barrier to getting in - you just had to show up and talk to the professor and they’d let you in.

Was my experience atypical?

**Kyla, ** I never had a problem with my classes at UF, either. That said, I did get memos that some of the courses I was planning to take were getting full, and they were going to give priority to those where it was within their major, then to seniors who needed it as a requirement, then to underclassmen who needed the required class, and finally to everybody else.

I would get those emails even after I had already taken the class. I think it usually happened with some upper level classes that were required in many different majors and for pre-meds and pre-vets. Think organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and their labs. My guess is they may not have had enough TA to teach sections and labs.

I get the same emails now from UGA (even though I’m a graduate student). Again, I think part of that is course management. And from what I remember, most of the time, very few students were eventually denied the courses. Sections opened up, the university scrambled to make more sections, and everybody was able to take those classes.

My college experience in the US was limited to graduate, but I remember things like certain classes being taught only once every two years. It’s easy to picture someone not taking one of them because of being in a specific major which did not require it (or one of those lovely “undecideds”, which are impossible in many countries if not most), or because of not realizing that your requirements for “X credits in Chemistry” make that specific course pretty much mandatory, and then having to make it up in the Spring of what would be their 5th year.

Never had an issue re. too many students, but then, I studied graduate and taught labs, the dynamics are very different from undergraduate lectures. I was able to listen in to one subject which my school did not allow me to sign up for (“Industrial Waste Reduction and Treatment” was not considered “a subject of interest for a Chemist”, since I was the first student to ask for it and the criterion was “have two students asked for it?”).

Nava, graduate school dynamics are much different from undergraduate courses, like you mentioned. Unless it is a very upper-level course in a concentration with very few students (I’m looking at you, Portuguese!), most required classes, even upper-level undergraduate courses, are offered every year (heck, even every semester). Granted, this may be the case with some engineering degrees, but then, most of those majors are already set at 5 years minimum instead of 4.

Graduate courses may be offered every other year, but the programs are such that the student will have no problem getting into the class once it is offered, even if it is “out of sequence”.