Nontraditional centers: promoting nontraditional student success in higher education



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Kansas State University


Nontraditional students are a growing and changing population of students that encompass a wide variety of demographics and have many external factors that contribute to their academic and social success. Institutions are meant to be a tool for social transformation, and as more nontraditional students move towards higher education, they are proving that lifelong learning is an essential aspect of human development not only for personal goals, but also for social, cultural, and economic purposes (Baptista, 2013). Institutions need to promote success for all students by continuously adjusting themselves to an always emergent and ever changing reality. Colleges will need to find and use best practices to guide nontraditional students in their academic and social success. Although their needs, motivations, and level of engagement may vary from traditional students, the overall mission of an institution is to create successful, well rounded, holistically developed citizens. Institutions would greatly benefit from creating a space that helps develop these students through the use of a center. A nontraditional center would allow practitioners to combine many of the best practices that can aid students in their college experience. Nontraditional student enrollment trends are unlikely to change in the future and investing in a space that addresses the factors and barriers that can inhibit degree attainment will be necessary for success. This master’s report will include the current enrollment trends of higher education, the differing characteristics of nontraditional and traditional students, history of nontraditional student enrollment, barriers and challenges to success, motivations to attend higher education, theoretical frameworks outlining success of nontraditional students and their adult identity development, how to promote nontraditional student success, and best practices that outline the characteristics of an ideal center.



Nontraditional student, Adult students, Nontraditional center, Higher education, Engagement, Nontraditional student challenges

Graduation Month



Master of Science


Department of Special Education, Counseling and Student Affairs

Major Professor

Christy D. Craft