How old is the average college student?

How Old Is the Average College Student?

How Old Is the Average College Student?

college students studying

When we think of college students, we often envision a young adult in their late teens or early twenties pursuing higher education. However, the reality is that the average college student is much more diverse than this stereotype. In this article, we will examine various statistics and trends to answer the question: How old is the average college student?

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of college students are over the age of 25?

According to data from the Lumina Foundation, nearly 40% of undergraduate students are older than 25. This number has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, as more individuals are opting to pursue higher education later in life. Many of these older students have jobs, families, or other responsibilities, and as a result, they may choose to attend school part-time or online.

mature student studying in classroom

What percentage of college students work while attending school?

The same Lumina Foundation data reveals that about 58% of undergraduate students work while attending college. This can pose a significant challenge to students, as they must balance their coursework with their job responsibilities. However, many students find that juggling work and school is necessary in order to pay for tuition, books, and other expenses.

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college student working part-time

What percentage of college students are parents?

More than one-quarter of undergraduate students are parents, according to the Lumina Foundation. This can add an additional layer of complexity to their college experience, as they must balance their coursework with their duties as a caregiver. Additionally, these students may face unique challenges, such as finding reliable child care or managing their time effectively.

college student with child

The Changing Demographics of College Students

As we have seen, the traditional image of a college student does not accurately represent the diverse population of individuals pursuing higher education today. In addition to age, there are other factors that contribute to this diversity:

  • Race and ethnicity: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 60% of undergraduate students in the US are White, while the remaining 40% are students of color. However, this gap is slowly closing, as the percentage of non-White students has been increasing steadily over the past decade.
  • Gender: Women now make up a slight majority of undergraduate students, making up about 56% of the population.
  • Financial background: While many students come from middle- or upper-income families, there is a growing population of low-income students who are pursuing college degrees. According to the College Board, more than half of all undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid.
  • Non-traditional paths: As we have seen, many students are choosing to pursue higher education later in life or while working full-time. Additionally, there are a growing number of students who are opting for alternative forms of higher education, such as vocational schools, online programs, or apprenticeships.
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Why Are Older Students Returning to College?

The trend of older students returning to college has become increasingly common over the past few decades. There are a number of reasons why these individuals are choosing to pursue higher education later in life:

  • Increased job opportunities: As the economy becomes more specialized, many employers are seeking candidates with advanced degrees or specialized skills. Returning to college can give individuals a competitive edge in the job market.
  • Career changes: Some individuals may be dissatisfied with their current careers and decide to switch to a new field. Education can be a key factor in making this transition.
  • Personal fulfillment: Many older students simply enjoy learning and desire to continue their education for personal reasons. Going back to school can be a way to fulfill this desire and explore new interests.


The average college student is not as young or homogeneous as many people may think. Rather, the population of individuals pursuing higher education is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of age, race, gender, financial background, and educational path. Whether you are a traditional or non-traditional student, there are resources available to help you succeed in your academic and career goals.


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