Don’t know about you, but we get studies and reports and charts up the wazoo around the offices. Most, frankly, isn’t worth using the cheapest printer paper we can buy (and trust me, as a start-up we buy really cheap paper!).


This one hit the inbox recently: “Understanding the New College Majority”


It purported to break down the audience and financial characteristics of “independent” higher ed students and their “outcomes.”


First things first: an “independent” student is defined as being all or some of the following: 24+ years old; married; a veteran; an orphan (or other government ‘ward’); active military; a homeless person; or having dependents that aren’t the spouse.


So, that’s how they get to ‘majority’ – lump everyone who isn’t 18-24 and middle income into a catch-all bucket. I guess that’s one way to do it.  But wait, it gets sillier: ‘most’ women are independent vs men; ‘most people of color’ are independent; parents of dependent children are independent; independent studies are 2X as likely to live in poverty.


So what are we to take away from this? As prospective students, it means two things: we’re different and schools don’t know how to help or deal with us. Whether you call non-traditional or independent, they are both code for ‘beats me’ on how to accept, enroll, educate and improve our lives.


So, what do we do about it? Research. Really hard. Demand answers – child care, how can I study part-time and remain on track to completion AND a successful outcome, where would you propose I live, sleep, study and in general have a life?


If the school you are looking at cannot answer these, we’d recommend that you run, as fast and as far as you can. And then check your registration and profile and ensure that you have selected what you need: scholarships, aid, room & board and other. Force the schools to step up before you even contemplate finding a way to pay them.


Independent and Untraditional should never be code words for ignored or second class citizens.