The Influence of Student Support Programs upon the Academic Success of Nontraditional Students

Renee Allen Dauer, Beverly Absher


The profile of the typical college student attending a 4-year institution is changing. Trends
indicate that while the population of traditional students, aged 18-22, remains flat or is
declining, the population of nontraditional students, aged 24 and older, is increasing. As a
result, nontraditional students have become the new traditional student population. Despite
this shift in student demographics, many colleges and universities have been slow to respond
to the changing needs of their student populations. Consequently, nontraditional students are
forced to navigate an academic environment that is ill equipped to provide the unique support
they need to achieve academic success. Previous studies have primarily focused on the
academic success of nontraditional students in relation to student attrition and retention. The
purpose of this study was to determine if there was a significant relationship between the
academic success of nontraditional students and the use of student support programs. Data
from the 2011 National Survey of Engagement were used for the study. Results from this
study indicate that there is a direct correlation between the use of student support programs
and the academic success of nontraditional students; however, the relationship is weak. In
addition, age and gender were found to influence some of the relationships between academic
success and the use of student support programs. In contrast, race or ethnicity was not shown
to influence the relationships between the variables of interest. Findings may help leaders in
higher education to make more informed and strategic decisions regarding student support
programs and resource allocation.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Renee Allen Dauer, Beverly Absher

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International Journal of Education ISSN 1948-5476


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