Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




John R. Thelin


As the shift in demographics and the aging population of the United States make their presence felt, colleges and universities throughout the country must address the question of supporting the goals of the non-traditional student in higher education. While it is difficult to characterize a "typical non-traditional student," it is important to analyze the role that certain demographic factors play in the student's decision to go to college.;We hypothesize that the non-traditional student's decision to attend college is influenced by several factors that, in broad, general terms, include family background characteristics, the student's demographic profile and aptitude, and external economic conditions and labor demand.;The influence of family background is incorporated in our model through variables that describe the environment in which a student has grown up. Parental educational attainment, in particular, serves as a proxy for the attitudes toward education that may have shaped the student's perceptions toward higher education. Other factors such as parental income, the father's Duncan socio-economic index, the number of siblings, and the birth order, describe the family's capacity to invest in higher education. In short, the factors hypothesized to influence student enrollment were indeed shown to have the predicted effects.;By understanding non-traditional students and what influences their enrollment decisions, we will have a better understanding of how to serve this growing segment of the population within higher education. In particular, by determining the type of institutions that these students enroll in, institutions themselves can be made more aware of the particular needs of these students so as to better able to meet them.



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