Framing the Core Issue 5 can always learn more about this student population through other means. While the NSSE website does not host the data collected from those surveys, that data are sometimes shared with or published publicly or by request at each institution. The Changing Nature of Higher Education Student Populations Student populations are changing rapidly. This book uses the terms “traditional” and “nontraditional” students. As outlined in chapter 2, the structures of higher education historically have best served students with high levels of social capital. “Traditional” has referred to students who are supported wholly or in major part by their families for tuition and hous- ing, who are in the 18 to 24 age group, and who are coming directly from a high school experience that offers college preparation courses. Though this binary differentiation is not what we recommend, the terms are used in this book because of their historical context and also because of the research on this topic. The terms “traditional” and “nontraditional” should be fluid. In different contexts, a nontraditional student may refer to one who does not live on campus, but commutes. A nontraditional student may be a par- ent. A nontraditional student could be someone older than 21 returning to college. Since the term “nontraditional” refers to many different groups with different needs, we recommend a strategy of being specific in identifying the exact population. In one’s own institution, it is always better to address descriptors of the group being discussed. Nontraditional students may include, but are not limited to, the following groups (note: this list is not intended to be hierarchical): commuter students, distance education stu- dents, LGBTQIA+ students, immigrant students, international students, mil- itary students, Native American students, refugee students, students of color, students with disabilities, students over the age of 21, other underrepre- sented minorities, or veteran students. For instance, it’s quite easy to see that commuting students have different needs from those who live on campus. Students who are parents of small children have different needs than those who do not have children. Even more specifically, single-parent students who commute to campus have many needs that differ from nonparent stu- dents who live on campus. Some of these needs are information needs, and some of these needs are services or even basic needs. Students who live on campus and who are 18 years old may also come from families who cannot financially support them. In all of these cases, students will have some shared information needs and other specific needs that will need to be met in order for them to be successful. The definition of “nontraditional students” varies. Students above the age of 25 are referred to as post-traditional learners by the American Council
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