Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success

> Interactive Infographic: Today’s College Students
> Partner Resource: Higher Learning Advocates – Today’s Students

Today’s college students come from a wide range of backgrounds and bring an equally diverse set of needs. Among college students today, nearly half (40 percent) are age 25 or older—returning to advance their career or to re-train for a new opportunity. Many students hold full-time jobs while enrolled in classes, one-quarter are parents, and many are the first in their family to attend college.

Unfortunately, many of these students don’t have the support they need to balance demanding schedules and competing priorities. One of the biggest obstacles they face is an educational system designed to serve students who arrive straight from high school, live on campus, and study full-time. That is at least part of the reason why half of students who begin a college education don’t reach graduation.

We can―and must―change this. A number of leading colleges and universities are redesigning themselves to put student success at the center of their work—and they are getting results. For example, institutions such as Georgia State University and University of California, Riverside have eliminated gaps in student success by race and income. And while there are no silver bullets and change can be a difficult and slow process, an increasing number of campuses across the country are leading the charge in making educational opportunity more equitable, more sustainable, and more reflective of the realities facing today’s college students.

Visit Student Stories for first-person accounts from today’s students.