Correcting 3 myths about the modern college student

The average college student isn't an 18-year-old enrolled full-time

With a new school year ramping up, now is the time to remedy some common myths about today's college students, Daniel Greenstein writes for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's "Impatient Optimists" blog. 

Myth 1: The average college student is an 18-to-24-year-old recent high school graduate. 

The picture that many people have in their head of a typical college student isn't very realistic. Forty percent of college students are at least 25 years old, and many of them are not coming to college straight from high school. That's why it's so important for colleges and universities to invest in academic resources that put students on guided pathways to graduation.

Myth 2: The average college student studies full-time.

Today's college students have a lot on their plate besides academics. About two-thirds of students work while enrolled in college, with about a quarter of them employed full-time. About 30% of students also have children who take up time, energy, and resources. Colleges must cater to students with responsibilities outside the classroom by offering credit for prior learning and experience and providing emergency aid programs.

Myth 3: The average student lives in an on-campus dorm.

A whopping 60% of students live off-campus, meaning that colleges must expand access to programs and services outside normal hours and offer online and blended courses that allow students to learn no matter where they are.

(Greenstein, "Impatient Optimists," Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 9/5). 

More mythbusting: Why texting your students isn't "coddling"

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Colleges see flood of applicants—but more may not be better

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