The college students you don't know
September 21st, 2012
01:10 PM ET

The college students you don't know

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - Mother, early 30s, financially independent, loves shopping online:  The description may not match your idea of the typical college student.

But is working to reshape the stereotype with some new data about today’s seekers of higher education.

For instance, over 6 million of today’s college students - about 30% - will go online for at least one of their courses, according to the report.  And they'll stay online to do their shopping; college students spent $16 billion over the internet in 2011.

It’s easy to understand how the recession drove many adults back to college campuses.  But the idea that 25% of today’s college students are over age 30 might come as a surprise.  So might the estimate that half of them are financially independent, whereas many of us remember calling home for pizza money.

A study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education estimated that only a third of new jobs created between 2008 and 2018 will require a bachelor's or higher degree.  Today’s enrollment reflects that. states that over 50% of today’s students are working toward a certification that takes less time to achieve, such as studying a trade or earning an associate’s degree.

And 27% will be balancing their studies with parenting.

The report notes that a total of 19.7 million people will enroll in college this year.  That works out to more than 6% of the U.S. population.

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Filed under: After High School • Carl Azuz • College • Graduation
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Anna

    Way to go! I love thinking out of the box....When we say learning, it does not have to be synonymous with the four corners of the classroom. It is always something more significant than that. One that would surpass the superficial learning. I am a graduate of Biomedical Sciences but I am getting another degree in Special Education (via online courses, while volunteering in a nearby preschool) while I take care of my 3 year old and while I manage a website design company. I am not bragging or selling myself here, I just want to prove that not because you have already worn a cap during your commencement exercises, then learning can cease...Never. It is not easy, but there are always choices.


    September 24, 2012 at 4:57 am |
  2. gatecrasher1

    That is why I loved loved grad school. It was such a milf-rageous time. More fun than college, where the 18 year old girls were shallow.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:08 am |
  3. marie

    I enjoyed the interesting interivew by Carl Azuz this morning on CNN. I am a mom with two young adults in college who are working towards their bright future... where are the jobs of the future ?

    September 23, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  4. Alana

    I am one of the non-traditional students and single mom of 2 awesome kids I might add. Just graduated with my BA in Psychology. Took me 3 school years ging half to 3/4 time all while working full time, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Higher education is never a poor decision, as the networking and connection you make through classmates and instructors will enhance your career track of choice. Power to those who take the dive and return to school. I am currently working searching for a grad school option online as I live in a rural northern Minnesota town.

    September 23, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  5. Suzie

    I am also one of those non-traditional students. I will receive my undergrad degree in the spring, at age 55. Something to cross off my bucket list. And then on to grad school. I am self employed and you can bet your *** I pay taxes. But it is awesome that age is no longer a limitation on what a person can accomplish. Non-traditional students rock!

    September 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  6. sam


    September 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  7. Dee

    I am one of those unconventional students. I went back to school when I was 47 with nothing but a GED. I earned my Associates degree and now I hope to stay at it until I get a Masters. It is strange sometimes being 3 times the age of the other students but it also gives me experience and an understanding that an education is something to value and appreciate.But, on the other hand I have responsibilities and concerns that the younger student don't have. It is not easy, but it is worth the time and effort.

    September 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  8. wonderland

    Shout Out to all the Non-traditional Students!

    September 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  9. Cashmeremafia

    I forgot to include myself – working during the day, going to law school at night

    September 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Dee

      That is fantastic. I don't know how you do it. Law school is HARD!! Best of luck to you.

      September 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  10. Cashmeremafia

    Why is this news to anyone? They're called "non-traditional" students, and have been growing in population for a while

    September 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  11. f-the-rich

    "only a third of new jobs created between 2008 and 2018 will require a bachelor's or higher"

    Get ready to lower your expectations. Learn the phrases you will need to succeed like, "Do you want fries with that?", "I'll be back next week to clean the pool" and many others.

    There are millions of jobs around the world that require higher education and the US is getting ready to ramp down. How much lower can we go?

    September 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  12. megan

    I am in college and work a full-time job. Of course I pay income taxes. My employer has a tuition reimbursement program but I can only benefit from it if I work full-time. While I receive reimbursement, I also pay taxes on that money as well. Going to college today is not the same as it was even five years ago. I'm sure I'm not the only student who has to work and attempt to go to school at the same time. Most people on both sides of the fence do not understand this concept. Best of luck to anyone who is in school and working their way through.

    September 22, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Alexander

      I work full time and attending school full time as well. It is very difficult. I am majoring in two subjects as well. The most annoying thing to me is wehn people come in and ask when I am going to graduate. They do not understand how hard it is especially when you are paying for school out of pocket. This semester I had to drop two classes because they require more of my time to focus. It gets harder towards the end and many people do not realize college in nowadays is not like it use to be. Students are going for certificate programs as well their A.A. but those are not degrees. People want quick money and and rush through these money making schools with nothing in hand. When you go out for a real job they hire these people with no real knowledge for cheap. America has beeen dumbed down. I applaud those who are in the same shoes as myself, struggling through college while holding down a full time job.

      September 22, 2012 at 10:14 am |
      • Jena

        Working and being a student is hard. Whatever kind of student you are, props to anyone taking time to get a higher education – kicking ass to do it. Keep working hard, it pays off.

        September 24, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • AC

      Working full time and getting a secondary education is rough times. It took me 10 years (8 of which was in the military) to get my BA and am currently working on my Masters (which a job that I am working 48+ hours a week). I can attest that in all levels of our education system we, as a society, have pushed the standard lower not higher over the last 15-20 years.

      Sad that most schools and Colleges push for an mediocrity to graduate instead of raising the quality of education and the standard at which it takes to graduate. In the future, the once rare Bachelor's degree will be so standard that it will be similar to todays HS education where almost everyone has one.

      On a more happy note, congrats and good work for those that went back to school and can accomplish it while working full time!!!!

      September 24, 2012 at 2:29 am |
  13. Louisa

    I paid income taxes when I was in college. Of course I did. How ridiculous to think I didn't. I worked nearly full-time to get myself through undergrad and then freelanced my way through graduate school. That's a lot of taxes to pay for someone trying to squeak through while paying high prices for textbooks and tuition. Do people think students get a break of some kind? They do not.

    September 22, 2012 at 4:20 am |
  14. krehator

    College students do not pay income taxes. They are the 47% of lazy people according to the GOP.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Ryan

      Funny Krehator hahaha.

      September 22, 2012 at 2:43 am |
      • Name*Denise

        Yes I work two job, divorce mother of one and go to school. I guess I'm 47 percent. Lmaooo.. i tell you..

        September 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm |