Dr. Universal has been a college professor for seven-years and offers the following reflection about higher education students:

Each year my thinking about the make up of the “typical” student in higher     education changes to some extent. Perhaps most noteworthy is that each year          students appear to be younger and younger or developmentally more naive.                  Closer analysis of this phenomenon has led me to conclude that this is in part                         a dynamic of my corresponding year-to-year aging process. That is, as I add                  another year to my age each succeeding year most of my students typically               remain the same age. Given the average age of the younger group, it is also possible that this group is less committed to study and more committed to                     other activities such as developing a social life or gaining independence generally as      young adults.


Students attending universities throughout the United States are classified in many different ways and for many different purposes. The following discussion uses a classification of categories based upon several key demographic variables. The overwhelming majority of students enter universities immediately following secondary education programs. They are most often referred to as “traditional students” or “students at the developmental stage of late adolescence.” Another critical mass of students is characterized as “non traditional” or ”mature learners.” This group of students is typically made up of individuals who have elected to seek higher education degrees following post secondary full-time employment and, for the most part, individuals who have delayed higher education to rear families. This group presents a diverse chronological age range from mid-twenties to mid-forties.

Within the categories of traditional/late adolescence students and non-traditional students are several distinct classifications of students that have become increasingly more prominent in higher education. These students are characterized as culturally and linguistically diverse and sensorily and cognitively disabled.  

Students at the developmental stage of late adolescence are likely to share the following characteristics (Levine & Cureton, 1998; Astin, 1993):