4 Things Prospective Non-Traditional Students Need To Know

October 16, 2022

At first, the prospect of completing your education in a non-traditional way may seem overwhelming. But the truth is, you’ll be following in the footsteps of many others, there are lots of convenient ways to do it, and you won’t have to do it alone. Here are four crucial things to understand about becoming a non-traditional student.


For proof that today’s typical student is anything but traditional, below is a collection of stats from the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success.

Of all undergraduate students nationwide:

-40% are enrolled in a public two-year college (community college)

-36% are 25 or older

-36% are minority students

-32% work full-time

-23% are parents

-13% are single parents

Plus, with stars like Sandra Bullock, James Franco, Brooke Shields, Shakira, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Jordan learning the non-traditional way, you’re in great company!


Deciding on a non-traditional route means you have lots of options for your education. You can work towards your degree using DSST tests, community college, online institution, or even a tertiary program that’s within a traditional parent university. Yale University, Tufts University, University of Pennsylvania, and Loyola University Chicago are just a few examples of prominent traditional schools with tertiary programs.

Check out these links to find the right match for you:

Community College Finder

Accredited Online Institutions

Tertiary Programs

And remember, using DSST to earn college credit is a convenient, affordable way to capitalize on the knowledge you already have. Click here to search for institutions that accept DSST college credit by exam.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that on a per-week basis, there is a $459 difference in earnings between those with a high school diploma and those with a bachelor’s degree. Although the cost of higher education can be a huge expense, this difference in earnings can pay off a debt of $70,000 in less than three years. Add a 50% increase in job security, and the argument for a bachelor’s degree is a pretty good one. Additionally, according to the U.S. Government Census, a master’s degree adds even more value to expected income, with average lifetime earnings of $2.5 million (versus $2.1 million for those with a bachelor’s degree, and $1.2 million for those with a high school diploma).


Another bonus for non-traditional students is that there are all sorts of scholarship opportunities available—for those willing to look. Be sure to check with your institution about its scholarship offerings, and remember you can also find corporate-funded scholarships. U.S. News offers a great resource for discovering the right scholarship for you. Whether you’re a veteran, busy parent, single parent, full-time employee, or even all of the above, there’s never been a better time to reach your education goals.

When you’re ready to get serious about getting credit for the knowledge you already have, DSST can help. We make it easy to earn college credit by exam, for a fraction of the cost of traditional semester hours. Learn more here.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

-William Butler Yeats