NonTrad FAQs

What does KU mean by "nontraditional student"?

"Non-Traditional student" shall be defined as a student who:

  • commutes 10 or more miles to campus (from home OR work),
  • or is a parent of dependent children, or is married,
  • or is a veteran, or student who has had their academic career interrupted for a period of at least six months by compulsory military service,
  • or is three or more years older than classmates (e.g., a 21+ year-old freshman, a 24+ year-old senior), or is a 25 years or older undergraduate student.

A highly diverse group of students are identified as "nontraditional" at KU, not as a label, but to provide a way for the University to recognize and provide additional outreach assistance to students who may, for a variety of reasons, experience more than the average difficulty in accessing information to meet their needs at KU.

How many nontraditional students (like me) are enrolled at KU?

A precise number is not available due to missing data, so our numbers underestimate the population of nontraditional students who are married, parents, or commuters, especially for students of "traditional" age. We estimate that the total nontraditional, undergraduate population would be closer to 5,000 if data were complete, roughly 25% of KU's undergraduate population.

Among KU's undergraduates, 7.4% of students are over the age of 25; additional age data are available in the KU Student Profile. There are also 1,441 students with military affiliations on campus. Students of any age may have nontraditional needs; all students tend to become more "nontraditional" in the sense of becoming more mature and experienced as learners. Over a third of nontraditional students are actually of traditional age (39% are age 24 or younger). Part-time students and students who have limited financial resources share much in common with many nontraditional students regardless of age.

How many students commute to the Lawrence campus from out of town?

In the Fall of 2001, there were 1338 undergraduate and graduate student commuters to the Lawrence campus from a distance of 10 miles or more from home or work. Data are not available for 40% of current students. In 1991 (when data were more complete), the numbers of commuters from 10 or more miles away was 2702. Commuting seems to have only increased in frequency among our student body. Further, some students today commute from Lawrence to the Edwards campus in Overland Park, so our best answer is "a lot" of students commute!

Are most nontraditional students parents or married students?

Actually, the majority of nontraditional students are single adult students with no dependents.

What does KU do for nontraditional students at KU?

A number of nontraditional services, like the individual problem-solving offered by the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, are no different from those offered to other students but recognize each student's individual needs. While not a "one-stop shopping" office, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center has information and knowledge on a broad array of issues and concerns. A staff member in the Student Involvement and Leadership Center focuses on nontraditional student issues and information.

KU celebrates the "National Nontraditional Student Week" in early November each year, and the Student Involvement and Leadership Center provides programming and resources catered to nontraditional students throughout the year.

The Student Involvement and Leadership Center also administers scholarships that are specifically for nontraditional students.

What does KU do for student-parents?

There are two child development facilities on campus: the Hilltop Child Development Center and the Edna A. Hill Child Development Center, which is part of the Human Development and Family Life academic program. Both centers typically have waiting lists for child-care openings.

The Student Senate generally provides funding to the Office of Student Financial Aid for childcare grants for student-parents with children under the age of five. The application period usually begins on the first of September, with a priority deadline several weeks later. The Office of Student Financial Aid also does a budget adjustment for students with child-care expenses on request.

Are classes/services available in evenings or on weekends?

On the Lawrence campus, it is not generally possible to complete degrees with only night courses, and classes that meet nights or weekends are rare. However, the Edwards Campus in Overland Park offers six undergraduate degree-completion programs with evening courses. The campus also offers various master's and doctoral programs that are designed and scheduled for non-traditional students. A listing of evening courses that begin 3:30 p.m. or later is available for each semester from the Registrar's Timetable website. Hours of operation are set by individual offices so policies are likely to differ. Most campus offices do not have evening hours. For specific office hours, check directly with the office.

Can I really do this? Did I make the right decision in returning to school?

In returning to education after a long absence, some degree of trepidation is common. The Academic Acheivement and Access Center (AAAC) offers Academic Success Guides to help lead students to success as well as indivual consultations to help students develop time managemner, study skills, and test taking strategies.  

Like any major life change, returning to school or adapting to a new environment requires some adjustment. For nontraditional students with families, it is helpful if families recognize and discuss up front some of the adjustments that they may need to make as well. Balancing work, family, and academic requirements can be a delicate task. Seeking assistance, asking questions, and preparing in advance for emergencies or establishing backup plans is helpful. Nontraditional students make valuable contributions to the University both in and out of the classroom. Faculty appreciate serious and conscientious students off all ages. We're glad you're here - when you need to hear this, stop in and visit!

What do you mean - "have a 'campus' life"? I don't have a life!

Nontraditional students may have a great deal of support from their families and communities. Even so, getting to know other KU students can help meet critical needs. There are many instances where students can help each other in ways that staff can not substitute (info on courses, study partners, notes from class, etc.). Actively participating in KU's learning community is not all confined to the classroom. Meeting academic and campus-related needs becomes much easier with peer support.

While nontraditional students may have limited time available and spend less time "hanging out" on campus, it may be incorrect to assume that you will never need to do more than attend class and study at home. There may be extra study sessions that, while only "recommended" are important to success, group projects that necessitate extra meetings, critical library work and at times credit (or extra credit) for attending related campus events. In general, the more time spent on campus, the greater the benefit. If your schedule is demanding or inflexible, the earlier you seek information and assistance the better.

If you did not find what you were looking for, please contact the Student Involvement and Leadership Center by calling 785-864-4861 or by email at!

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