Feeling like a stranger in your college classes? According to the Institute of Education Sciences, the demographics of who is attending college has been shifting over the years, and college classes look different than they used to. Check out the following statistics on who is attending college these days, and for what reasons.

Who Are Today’s Undergraduate Students?

Who is attending college these days? In the past ten years, (between 1999 and 2009), undergraduate student enrollment (for students pursuing degrees) increased by 38 percent, rising from 14.8 million students to 20.4 million students. Of those students, the number of female students rose by 40 percent, while the number of male students rose by 35 percent. Most of these students attended college full time as opposed to part time. In this same time frame, the number of mature students (age 25 or older) has increased by 43 percent, where as the number of younger students (under age 25) has only risen by 27 percent.

That means today’s undergraduate college classes are filled with more mature, female students than in the past.

Who Are Today’s Post Baccalaureate Students?

The number of students pursuing post baccalaureate degrees has also risen. In the time frame of 1985 to 2009, enrollment numbers have increased by 73 percent. The post baccalaureate demographics have shifted significantly as well. In the time frame of 1999 to 2009, the number of full time post baccalaureate female students has risen by 63 percent, while the number of full time post baccalaureate male students has risen by 36 percent.

This means today’s post baccalaureate college classes are filled with more females than at any time in the past.

Social scientists have speculated that this increase in pursuit of post baccalaureate degrees has been driven by a couple of factors. First of all, with unemployment at a high, college students are putting off seeking employment. Instead they are getting higher education degrees, hoping for a shift in the economy when they finally graduate. Secondly, more and more jobs are requiring post baccalaureate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees are becoming more commonplace and less valued. Students hope they will graduate with a valuable set of degrees that will land them desirable jobs paying salaries that can offset student loan burdens.

What Are The Most Popular Degrees?

The most popular college degrees for 2011, in order, are as follows: biology, business, communications, computer sciences, criminal justice (and forensics), education (elementary), marketing, nursing, psychology, and sociology (or political science). These are the most common (or popular) majors for college students today, meaning you’re much more likely to room with a marketing major than an engineering major.

But are these the most lucrative degrees? Will these degrees land you a job? Before choosing a major, you’ll want to investigate what degrees will get you what jobs, and then check the availability of those jobs in your region.

College Student Demographics Summary

If you’re interested in more information about who today’s college students are (and who tomorrow’s college students are projected to be), check out this annual survey of college student demographics put out by NASPA Foundation. You’ll discover that the face of the average college student is ever changing.


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