Nontraditional and traditional students' perceptions toward baccalaureate degree completion: A comparative study

Clara Janice Garrett, Fordham University


Studies of older adults enrolled in colleges have for the most part described their characteristics, motivation, needs, and interest in education. These older students differ from traditional college students in significant ways, including their stages of development in life, value systems, outside responsibilities, and learning characteristics. While research exists on the undergraduate nontraditional and traditional students separately, limited research has been conducted on both populations attending classes together. The purpose of this study was to compare perceptions and experiences of 361 nontraditional and traditional students from a northeastern, urban college enrolled in an intergenerational college program to determine the relationship of age on the students' perceptions of their college experiences upon completion of their undergraduate degree. Factors that enhanced or restricted the college experience were also examined. The students were asked to complete a graduation questionnaire that was designed to elicit perceptions about the college and their major, perceptions about an intergenerational student body, and perceptions about their future academic study. Although more similarities than differences were found between nontraditional and traditional students, perceptions of their undergraduate college experiences, a statistically significant difference was found between the two groups with regard to employment, academic status, choice of majors, level of satisfaction with their major, and the type of advanced degree they hope to earn. The findings support previous research studies on the benefits of mixed-age classes for nontraditional and traditional students alike, but also suggest that while there are distinct differences between the two groups, age does not predict behavior, perceptions, or experiences.

Subject Area

Higher education|Adult education|Continuing education

Recommended Citation

Garrett, Clara Janice, "Nontraditional and traditional students' perceptions toward baccalaureate degree completion: A comparative study" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9923431.