California Competes Explores the New-Normal Student Population

The Changing Needs of Those Seeking Higher Education in California

California’s antiquated higher education system was built around the idea of a “traditional” 18-year-old who matriculates directly to college. However, this outdated model no longer serves the state’s current, diverse student population. Today’s students are more likely to be surrounded by “nontraditional” peers, such as student parents, adults, and first-generation students.

While California institutions’ demographics reflect students with different paths and hurdles to postsecondary education, the system itself has not made enough progress to provide adequate support for these groups.

By overlooking the diversity within California’s college student population, the state is missing a key opportunity to elevate statewide academic and economic prosperity.

In the next few weeks, California Competes will highlight who some of these nontraditional students are and their experiences within postsecondary education, beginning with incarcerated students and student parents. We will analyze what challenges they face and how statewide policies could support these communities that make up such a significant portion of college-goers.

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