The Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in 2015

The Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in 2015

When it comes to learning, there’s no right way and no wrong way. Instead, there are Multiple Intelligences (a theory proposed by Howard Gardner in 1983). Multiple Intelligences refers to the different ways in which people learn. The seven methods are: Visual, Verbal, Logical, Bodily, Musical, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal. Of course everyone learns using a variety of these intelligences, but the theory just goes to show that sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture isn’t effective for all students. Students who prefer an alternative education environment are referred to as nontraditional learners – and there are hundreds of thousands of nontraditional learners around the country. When it comes to choosing a college, nontraditional students will do themselves a favor if they take the time to explore a wide range of options and find a school that caters to their particular learning preferences. Here’s what nontraditional prospective students should consider when checking out potential colleges.

Grading

It’s predicted that 5%-18% of children suffer from anxiety. While the causes of anxiety vary widely, many students feel intimated by grades and test in school, causing them undue stress. Some nontraditional students might do better at a college without the traditional A-F grading system. Grades are instead pass/fail reducing the stress over each assignment and allowing students to focus on their overall course experience and success.

Study Options

For students who struggle with the thought of picking just one major and one career path for life, a nontraditional college offering interdisciplinary study options might be a better choice. A variety of colleges these days allow students to just a pick a “focus” to their studies and tailor their class schedule according to their preferences – not a college course catalog.

Location Variety

Nontraditional students who don’t want to be tied down to the same college for an entire four years of studying because they feel like they learn more about life and themselves while on the move should look into a college that has multiple campuses, a strong emphasis on international study abroad programs, and more.

Practical Work Experience

People who prefer learning by doing should find a college that emphasizes real-world experience through internships, mentorships with professionals, and more. While vocational schools are ideal for some, nontraditional students looking to blend academia with work experience will be able to find the right college for them with just a bit of searching.

Below is a ranking of the top colleges for nontraditional learners. The methodology used to determine this ranking was based on both statistics and the opinions of experts in the industry. Additionally, surveys were sent to students to determine their level of satisfaction with their education as non-traditional learners.

Rank
School Name
Location
Tuition
  School Description Address Services Websites Accreditation Rates
1 Caldwell, ID
  • $24,625 annually
More Info
School Description

College of Idaho offers a PEAK program, allowing a student to graduate with a major and three minors in the same time. This approach is great for non-traditional students as it enables them to become proficient in a wider range of subjects, while not making further demands on their time than the four years a typical institution requires.

Address
2112 Cleveland Blvd
Caldwell, ID 83605-4432
(208) 459-5011
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NCCU
Rates
90.5% Admission Rate
28.91% Enrollment Rate
66.52% Graduation Rate
87.99% Retention Rate
2 Fairfield, IA
  • $26,430 annually
More Info
School Description

Maharishi University of Management prides themselves on their elevated quality of life, providing sustainable organic produce in their vegetarian kitchen, giving opportunities to meditate on campus, and allowing the students to focus on their studies one at a time. For a non-traditional student trying to juggle work and school, this relaxed pace could be the perfect choice.

Address
1000 N 4th St
Fairfield, IA 52557
(641) 472-7000
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NCACS/THLC
Rates
41.89% Admission Rate
61.29% Enrollment Rate
32.43% Graduation Rate
81.82% Retention Rate
3 Olympia, WA
  • $8,000 in state;
  • $21,000 out of state
More Info
School Description

Evergreen State College enables students to pick their own program of study. They discard the traditional grading system in favor of applied learning. For a non-traditional student, this provides the unique opportunity to devise a singular program of study, making the Evergreen State graduate stand out from the crowd.

Address
2700 Evergreen Pkwy NW
Olympia, WA 98505-0001
(360) 867-6170
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NCCU
Rates
97.09% Admission Rate
33.12% Enrollment Rate
56.87% Graduation Rate
74.09% Retention Rate
4 Bar Harbor, ME
  • $41,535 annually
More Info
School Description

College of the Atlantic offers just one major which is human ecology. Through interdisciplinary classes, students apply their learning to a large-scale project that they will complete before graduation. The interdisciplinary approach enables a non-traditional student to gain applicable knowledge right out of the gate, which they can utilize immediately in their present occupation.

Address
105 Eden Street
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
(207) 288-5015
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NEASC/CIHE
Rates
73.67% Admission Rate
31.23% Enrollment Rate
69.05% Graduation Rate
80.56% Retention Rate
5 Boulder, CO
  • $30,578 annually
More Info
School Description

Naropa University was founded by a Tibetan monk and leans heavily on Buddhist teachings as they devise their educational approach. It has resulted in a mingling of arts, Zen, and the pursuit of knowledge. This non-traditional school would be perfect for a non-traditional student.

Address
2130 Arapahoe Ave
Boulder, CO 80302-6697
(303) 444-0202
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NCACS/THLC
Rates
79.75% Admission Rate
60.32% Enrollment Rate
40.91% Graduation Rate
58.33% Retention Rate
6 Baltimore, MD
  • $40,558 annually
More Info
School Description

Goucher College, the only college in the country to do so, requires an abroad study to equip her graduates with a multicultural experience. Providing instruction from other perspectives enables students to be better rounded and more open minded. This gives non-traditional students a great opportunity, both for personally edification and coveted resume content.

Address
1021 Dulaney Valley Rd
Baltimore, MD 21204-2794
(410) 337-6000
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
MSCHE
Rates
71.73% Admission Rate
15.81% Enrollment Rate
67.92% Graduation Rate
85.37% Retention Rate
7 Annapolis, MD
  • $47,626 annually
More Info
School Description

St. John’s College is firmly planted in academics, requiring all students to take four years of language, math, and interdisciplinary studies, and three year of science. However, this college takes a refreshing break from homework and instead places emphasis on discussions. As many non-traditional students already have real life experiences, they'll find such discussion particularly stimulating.

Address
60 College Ave
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 263-2371
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
MSCHE, AALE
Rates
80.99% Admission Rate
45.49% Enrollment Rate
63.38% Graduation Rate
88.98% Retention Rate
8 Yellow Springs, OH
  • $30,250 annually
More Info
School Description

Antioch College makes mandatory cooperative education, requiring their students to regularly alternate between course work and full-time work. Doing so ensures that the graduates of this college are capable of living and working productively in whatever community they find themselves.

Address
1 Morgan Pl
Yellow Springs, OH 45387
(937) 319-6082
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
Rates
58.96% Admission Rate
55.7% Enrollment Rate
89.04% Retention Rate
9 Milwaukee, WI
  • $20,538 annually
More Info
School Description

Alverno College, in their relentless endeavor to provide society with high functioning, successful individuals, discard grades in favor of evaluating their students based on their person. Instead of GPA, the college provides a transcript describing each student's person, growth, and achievements. For a non-traditional student, the lack of necessity to pursue grades so they might pursue learning comes with a sigh of relief.

Address
3400 S 43rd St
Milwaukee, WI 53234-3922
(414) 382-6000
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NCACS/THLC
Rates
78.87% Admission Rate
45.32% Enrollment Rate
38.52% Graduation Rate
71.73% Retention Rate
10 Needham, MA
  • $44,025 annually
More Info
School Description

Olin College has devised an educational program for engineering students with the intention of molding them into individuals who look for needs, solutions to those, and edify the world in their endeavors. They do this by focusing the studies of each student around a large-scale project. All students receive half scholarship, which makes this a financially wise choice for non-traditional students.

Address
Olin Way
Needham, MA 02492-1200
(781) 292-2300
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NEASC/CIHE
Rates
16.85% Admission Rate
60.74% Enrollment Rate
98.63% Graduation Rate
96.3% Retention Rate
11 Berea, KY
  • $23,400 annually
More Info
School Description

Berea College maintains their status of social pioneers, which they've earned through their rich history. (Berea College was the first college in the South to become interracial and also the first college to be co-ed.) They're committed to providing quality education to promising individuals with financial hardships, offering free tuition to those who work on campus for 10 hours a week.

Address
101 Chestnut Street
Berea, KY 40404-2182
(859) 985-3000
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
SACS/CC
Rates
34.01% Admission Rate
72.05% Enrollment Rate
61.67% Graduation Rate
81.07% Retention Rate
12 Trenton, NJ
  • $250 per credit in state
More Info
School Description

Thomas Edison State College is an ideal choice for non-traditional students. For the self-motivated learners, like Thomas Edison himself, this college's distance education program, equipped with five different formats specifically engineered to compliment a wide range of learning styles, is perfect for any non-traditional student.

Address
101 W State St
Trenton, NJ 08608-1176
(609) 984-11002025
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
MSCHE
Rates
13 Walla Walla, WA
  • $46,138 annually
More Info
School Description

Whitman College located in Historic Walla Walla, Washington offers 45 majors. They have many scholarships available, including one specifically for a non-traditional student at $5,000. Their comprehensive exams which must be passed in order to graduation ensure their students have learned the information well.

Address
345 Boyer Ave
Walla Walla, WA 99362
(509) 527-5111
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NCCU
Rates
56.96% Admission Rate
26.61% Enrollment Rate
87.75% Graduation Rate
93.96% Retention Rate
14 Beloit, WI
  • $44,590 annually
More Info
School Description

Beloit College prioritizes applied learning and seeks to embody a education style that changes lives and motivates it students so that they might, in turn, change and motivate the world. Their flexible curriculum makes this an excellent choice for non-traditional students.

Address
700 College St
Beloit, WI 53511-5595
(608) 363-2000
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NCACS/THLC
Rates
67.69% Admission Rate
19.67% Enrollment Rate
78.15% Graduation Rate
92.28% Retention Rate
15 Sherman, TX
  • $36,255 annually
More Info
School Description

Austin College having unique study abroad programs allowing students to find just the program they're looking for. Consequently, more than 70% of students utilize this opportunity. Furthermore, their low student to faculty ratio ensures that the non-traditional student won't get lost in the crowd.

Address
900 N Grand Ave
Sherman, TX 75090-4400
(903) 813-2000
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
SACS/CC
Rates
58.61% Admission Rate
19.77% Enrollment Rate
71.77% Graduation Rate
82.79% Retention Rate
16 Meadville, PA
  • $40,660 annually
More Info
School Description

Allegheny College, requiring their students to select both a major and a minor from different fields, develops well rounded students who can then apply their learning in either their major or minor or find a specific niche that incorporates both. Non-traditional students, especially those with a career already in hand, can combine unusual disciplines to optimize themselves for their position.

Address
520 N Main St
Meadville, PA 16335-3902
(814) 332-3100
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
MSCHE
Rates
64.87% Admission Rate
20.64% Enrollment Rate
79.17% Graduation Rate
85.45% Retention Rate
17 Colorado Springs, CO
  • $54,534 annually
More Info
School Description

Colorado College divides their semesters into eight sessions. With one class per session, projects, homework, and attention do not need to be juggled. This format allows classes to be completed in a short period of time, so it's perfect for the non-traditional students just interested in taking a class or two.

Address
14. E Cache La Poudre St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
(719) 389-6000
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NCACS/THLC
Rates
22.28% Admission Rate
40.53% Enrollment Rate
87.21% Graduation Rate
96.08% Retention Rate
18 Saint Petersburg, FL
  • $38,668 annually
More Info
School Description

Eckerd College proudly offers to non-traditional students their Program for Experienced Learners. This program has been designed with the working adult in mind. Their eight week courses are available in the evenings and on the weekends. The wide offering of courses allows them to meet any students scheduling needs.

Address
4200 54th Ave S
Saint Petersburg, FL 33711-4700
(727) 867-1166
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
SACS/CC
Rates
71.04% Admission Rate
19.22% Enrollment Rate
66.17% Graduation Rate
83.21% Retention Rate
19 Amherst, MA
  • $47,620 annually
More Info
School Description

Hampshire College, encouraging students to make educated decisions, spends the first year of schooling delving into various schools of thought, their second year focusing on one, and their third year, they begin working on a large-scale project. Part of a five college consortium, this small college has an impressive number of resources, classes, and opportunities available to her students, as they can utilize the other colleges in the consortium.

Address
893 West St
Amherst, MA 01002-5001
(413) 549-4600
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NEASC/CIHE
Rates
63.69% Admission Rate
19.85% Enrollment Rate
66.07% Graduation Rate
81.23% Retention Rate
20 Bennington, VT
  • $46,658 annually
More Info
School Description

Bennington College, with plans like the Low-Residency Format of the MFA in Writing, where students spend two 10 day intensive studies on campus and the rest of the year is spent out in the world, has unique programs of study for any lifestyle. Non-traditional students should look into each of these programs to find the one specific to their needs.

Address
One College Drive
Bennington, VT 05201-6003
(802) 442-5401
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NEASC/CIHE
Rates
64.87% Admission Rate
19.1% Enrollment Rate
67.16% Graduation Rate
83.33% Retention Rate
21 Providence, RI
  • $46,408 annually
More Info
School Description

Brown University, although part of the Ivy League, is structured very differently from the others. Part of a student's responsibility is to devise a curriculum for themselves with assistance from the advisers. With the number of resources Brown has to offer, the possibilities are endless, providing a truly unique educational experience.

Address
One Prospect Street
Providence, RI 02912
(401) 863-1000
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NEASC/CIHE
Rates
9.18% Admission Rate
58.14% Enrollment Rate
94.52% Graduation Rate
97.14% Retention Rate
22 Sarasota, FL
  • $7,040 in state
More Info
School Description

New College of Florida, slightly different from the other colleges that allow a personal plan of study, has their students sign seven contracts for each semester when they've settled on a plan. After the period, advisers check to see if the terms of the contract were fulfilled, providing students with a narrative evaluation instead of grades.

Address
5800 Bay Shore Road
Sarasota, FL 34243-2109
(941) 487-5000
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
SACS/CC
Rates
60.61% Admission Rate
26.62% Enrollment Rate
65.84% Graduation Rate
81.17% Retention Rate
23 Wooster, OH
  • $44,950 annually
More Info
School Description

College of Wooster pairs students with faculty members. Students then work with their faculty partner to focus on either a thesis or a large scale project to work on during the course of their studies. And with over 120 student organizations, any non-traditional student will be able to find an extracurricular activity that meets their needs and gets them involved in the college community.

Address
1189 Beall Avenue
Wooster, OH 44691
(330) 263-2000
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NCACS/THLC
Rates
56.33% Admission Rate
17.81% Enrollment Rate
75.05% Graduation Rate
87.09% Retention Rate
24 Northampton, MA
  • $46,010 annually
More Info
School Description

Smith College offers non-traditional students an opportunity to be Ada Comstock Scholars, named after a pioneer in education, the first woman to be an academic dean and the first woman to be the president of a college. With over 1,000 courses to choose from at Smith, in addition to any course offered by the four other area colleges, the perfect plan of study for any student is available.

Address
7 College Lane
Northampton, MA 01063
(413) 584-2700
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
NEASC/CIHE
Rates
43.08% Admission Rate
33.9% Enrollment Rate
86.13% Graduation Rate
93.7% Retention Rate
25 Annandale-On-Hudson, NY
  • $48,240 annually
More Info
School Description

Bard College gives high school sophomores to seniors the chance to take college classes before they would traditionally be able to do so. While non-traditional students are traditionally adult learners, such students seeking to start scholarly work sooner certainly fall under this term, as well.

Address
Annandale Road
Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504-5000
(845) 758-6822
Websites
University homepage
Accreditation
MSCHE
Rates
37.61% Admission Rate
23.78% Enrollment Rate
73.88% Graduation Rate
87.5% Retention Rate