The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.
The path to college is relatively straight forward for many students: graduate from high school in the spring, start college in the fall, and hopefully leave with a degree four years later. But a number of factors can cause students to stray from the traditional academic trajectory. Some students enlist in the military; others take time off to travel or volunteer.
[Learn how school counselors can help in college prep.]
Tough economic conditions in recent years have also prompted students to go directly into the workforce, gaining valuable experience and building up their college savings before embarking on their undergraduate career.
While studies caution that older, nontraditional students are less likely to complete their bachelor's degree than those who start college immediately after high school, some people argue that a few years in the "real world" can help students zero in on what they want to be when they grow up.
Older students are in the minority on most college campuses. On average, students age 25 or older accounted for roughly 15 percent of all undergraduate students during fall 2011, according to enrollment data reported by 1,155 ranked schools in a 2012 survey by U.S. News.
On some campuses, however, these students are in the majority. Among the 10 colleges with the most older students, an average of 68.4 percent of undergraduates are 25 or older.
At Mid-Continent University in Kentucky, 82 percent of undergraduate students are 25 or older, and nontraditional students account for 71 percent of the more than 70,000 undergraduates enrolled at DeVry University, a for-profit school offering online and in-person instruction.
[Learn how to tell a good online program from a bad one.]
Schools that were designated by U.S. News as Unranked were not considered for this report. U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for Unranked programs because the program did not meet certain criteria that U.S. News requires to be numerically ranked.
Below are the 10 schools with the most students age 25 and older:
|School name (state)||Percentage of students 25 and older||Total undergraduate enrollment||U.S. News rank and category|
|Mid-Continent University (KY)||82||2,369||RNP*, Regional Colleges (South)|
|Post University (CT)||73||4,855||RNP, Regional Colleges (North)|
|Cardinal Stritch University||72||2,940||RNP, National Universities|
|DeVry University (IL)||71||70,158||RNP, Regional Universities (Midwest)|
|Mountain State University (WV)||71||4,209||RNP, Regional Universities (South)|
|Regis University (CO)||66||5,643||29, Regional Universities (West)|
|Upper Iowa University||65||5,179||RNP, Regional Colleges (Midwest)|
|Aquinas College (TN)||62||646||42, Regional Colleges (South)|
|Albertus Magnus College (CT)||61||1,604||133, Regional Universities (North)|
|Notre Dame of Maryland University||61||1,293||33, Regional Universities (North)|
*RNP denotes an institution that is ranked in the bottom one fourth of its rankings category. U.S. News calculates a rank for the school but has decided not to publish it.
Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find student demographics, complete rankings, and much more.
U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2012 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The student demographic and enrollment data above are correct as of Nov. 13, 2012.