You graduate high school, have an awesome summer, and then head off to college for four years, right? Not always. Today’s colleges host students of all ages and backgrounds. What accounts for the changing face of college and what unique challenges do these non-traditional students deal with?

College’s Shifting Demographics

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “In recent years, the percentage increase in the number of students age 25 and over who enrolled in degree-granting institutions has been similar to the percentage increase in the number of younger students . . . Between 2000 and 2012, the enrollment of students under age 25 and the enrollment of those age 25 and over both increased by 35 percent. From 2012 to 2023, however, NCES projects the rate of increase for students under age 25 to be 12 percent, compared with 20 percent for students age 25 and over.”

In some schools, students over age 25 already dominate the classrooms. During the 2013-2014 school year, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in Minneapolis, MN; Northcentral University in Prescott Valley, AZ; and Charter Oak State College in New Britain, CT all had student bodies that were mostly comprised of people over 25.

Why Is the Shape of the Campus Body Changing?

There are several factors that contribute to the rising average age of college students:

  • Online programs make it easier for adults to fit an education around their everyday schedules.
  • Many schools have affordable financing options and online resources offer deals on textbooks and other supplies.
  • A rapidly changing job market impels some professionals to look for a new career.

It isn’t just older students that benefit from a return to school. Younger students can learn from their older peers’ life experiences and professionals who go back to school represent a golden networking opportunity for their fellow learners.

Challenges for Older College Students

Whether older students enroll in college because they want a career change or because they just finished military service and are eager to embark on civilian life, they face unique challenges. The Seattle Post Intelligencer listed some of these challenges:

  • Social interaction: While it is true that students over age 25 are increasingly populating campuses nationwide, older learners may still feel a little odd when they walk into an English 101 class that is full of people who could be their children or grandchildren.
  • Academic level: Some older students, thanks to life experience or personal learning, will be steps ahead of their peers. Other older students, however, may need some extra time to get back in the groove of an academic routine.
  • Schedule: Online programs make it possible to juggle a work schedule, school schedule, and family life, but some students will take a while to adjust to a routine that includes college courses and homework.
  • Confidence: Everyone faces some jitters on the first day of school, even students who obtained their high school diplomas decades ago.

College is no longer the sole domain of people in their late teens and early 20s. Schools across the country welcome older learners as more and more people realize that it’s never too late to go back to school and it may even be necessary.


Have you ever wondered which subjects are most popular in terms of undergrad degrees? How about which career fields are most closely connected to those majors? Or what starting salaries are like? How about where your own interest/major stacks up and what you can expect to do in terms of work? We’ve got the scoop on all of that and more.


Earlier this year, Virginia’s Sweet Briar College announced that it would soon close its doors. The wealthy women’s-only school first opened more than a century ago, and since then, thousands of women have gained a solid liberal arts education there. What are the underlying reasons for Sweet Briar’s financial woes, is it really in its last days, and what can we learn from this strange case?

Landmarks in Sweet Briar’s History

Outcries over the school’s potential closing are understandable; Sweet Briar played a small but important role in Virginia’s history. It was founded in 1901 on the grounds of Indiana Fletcher Williams’ estate. A landmark moment came in the 1930s when the school established a study-abroad program, making it a pioneer in international studies. In 1995, 21 of Sweet Briar’s buildings earned places on the Virginia Landmarks Register. The buildings are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic District. Of course, the school isn’t stuck in the past. In 2004, it established an engineering degree program, making it one of two women’s colleges in the nation to offer such.

Sweet Briar’s Dwindling Enrollment

As precious as history is, it cannot help Sweet Briar to adapt to changing times. Opinions abound about what contributed to the school’s financial woes, but at the root of the problem is insufficient enrollment numbers. The school is in a rural location, making it difficult for part-time students to attend. Furthermore, while some women’s colleges have chosen to welcome men as students, Sweet Briar remains a single-sex school. Some women view this as an old-fashioned arrangement and feel they would miss out on some social aspects of college life. Some students who enrolled for a year or two because of tuition discounts leave before they finish their degrees.

Sweet Briar’s Bankruptcy

In spring of 2015, Sweet Briar declared that it would soon close its doors. A court ruling managed to save the school for another academic year, but that doesn’t mean Sweet Briar has an extended future ahead of it. Despite the school’s $94 million endowment, it still faces problems of enrollment and student retention. In the past, it tried to partner with larger, stronger educational institutions but so far none have decided to get on board with Sweet Briar. Another issue is that, since the school announced it would close, many members of the faculty took jobs elsewhere, meaning that, at the very least, the face of the school is changing.

The Saving Sweet Briar Campaign

A non-profit organization Saving Sweet Briar makes continuing efforts to keep the school afloat. Saving Sweet Briar has already raised millions of dollars for the school. The organization also seeks to educate the public about the college’s financial state and to find people who can join the school’s board of directors and lead it to a brighter future.

What do coming years hold for Sweet Briar College? Will the school be able to adapt to changing times? It is impossible to say. However, for now, the historic institution remains active and hopeful that it will serve future generations of students. For now, we congratulate Sweet Briar and we wish all associated with the college the best as they begin a new school year.

Summertime is synonymous with long lazy days and no school to worry about, but if you play all summer, college could end up being way harder than it needs to be. Little things you can do now can make the upcoming semester and the move back on campus so much better. None of these activities take long, you can do them last-minute, and each of them will make going back to school easier.

Check Out Your Professors

You may not know this, but college professors have ratings, just like movies and laptops. Just go to Rate My Professors and start searching. You can use the information to decide which classes to take or just to get a heads up about how that particular professor operates. Read the reviews and learn how your professors this semester teach. You may even find some hints and tips to help you get the best grade possible. Remember to stay open-minded and don’t let others’ experiences bias your own opinion of the prof.

Get Your Textbooks

One of the best things you can do before going back to college this semester is get your books. If you wait until the semester starts, you will have to get your textbooks from the campus bookstore and likely pay way more than you need to. Plus, you will actually have to buy them. While owning the books means you can sell your textbooks later, you may be able to rent your textbooks or get them digitally or from the library. Sites like CampusBooks let you compare the cost of renting versus buying and printed books versus eBooks so you can get the best deal.

Friend Your Roommate

You are going to be sharing a room with your roommate for the semester, if not the year. Go ahead and friend him or her on Facebook, send an email, or Skype before the semester starts. Together you can decide which furnishings and appliances to bring and lay the groundwork for the “rules of the room.” Plus, by contacting your new roomie ahead of time, you can avoid that awkward first day.

Stock Up

Once you and your roommate decide what you each will bring, it is time to go shopping. Appliances like a mini-fridge can be a blessing for those times you don’t feel like walking to the dining hall or when having a late-night study session. In addition to your textbooks, you should also make sure you have a laptop or netbook, extra bedding, non-perishable foods, and a few things to make your dorm space more like home. Also, stock up on pens, paper, notebooks, and highlighters. Those little items really add up, and if you have to buy them on campus you could spend way more than you intend (or need) to.

Make a Plan

Lastly, make a plan for how you will do everything. Budget time for extracurricular activities as well as study time. Allow yourself to plug events and activities into the blocks you schedule, and that’s it. That way you won’t over-commit yourself. Also, talk with your parents about when you intend to come home, how often you will call, and how much interaction with them on social media is okay.

College is a special time with new responsibilities and new experiences. Doing a few last-minute things to make collegiate life easier before your semester starts is a smart idea.


Back-to-school rush is on and things are crazy in terms of time and money. We’ve been working hard to bring students more tools to help them better manage those precious resources and we’ve released four new-and-improved time-and-money-savers just in time for textbook season!

screen322x572-11) Totally New Mobile Apps

CampusBooks for Android and CampusBooks for iPhone are totally rebuilt from the ground up and both provide a great way to buy, rent, and sell textbooks on the go. Get the apps and start scanning and saving ASAP. It’s so easy and you’ll save more than you knew possible.





Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 11.47.12 AM2) Innovative (and Exclusive) Buy Vs. Rent Tool

Wondering whether it’s better to buy or to rent? Not sure if that $200 chemistry text will have any buyback value at the end of the semester? Questioning if renting really is the best deal just because it seems cheap now? We can help! Check out the Buy Vs. Rent tool in the left column of your price-comparison results at CampusBooks. You’ll see our recommendation for your best option. Based on a proprietary algorithm, BvR takes much of the guesswork and risk out of getting your textbooks.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 11.59.45 AM3) Revamped BookBag

What’s better than saving some money on one or two books? Bundling four or five and saving even. The revamped CampusBooks BookBag takes the multiple books you add and does all of the math behind the scenes so as to take tax and shipping and coupons into account and present you with the overall best deal on the whole package. Maybe that’s all books from one merchant, maybe it’s a combo of a used book from Amazon Marketplace plus an international edition from Half plus a rental from Chegg and an eBook. Let us figure it out for you with the BookBag.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 11.55.06 AM4) Library Inventory

The only thing better than cheap textbooks is free textbooks. Be sure to enable the Libraries option and enter your zip code in the filters of our price comparison so we can check area libraries (college and public) to see if they have your book nearby and available to borrow for free.

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And Still More Upgrades and Updates…

In addition to these new-and-improved tools, we’ve optimized our website for speed and performance and we’ve added more merchants and more options for rental durations and digital downloads. We’ve also loaded up the site with coupons for many of the merchants. The costs of college textbooks may indeed be on the rise again as publishers roll out new editions and bundle access cards to make sure that their texts must be purchased new … but with some information and options, you can keep costs in check and get all of your books without breaking the bank.

Best of luck for the new semester!

Sexual assault on college campuses is a problem that is difficult to quantify. The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault launched the resource website Not Alone and released a report stating that about 20 percent of college students experience some form of sexual assault during their time in school. However, there is no way to know how accurate that number is. Victims often fail to report incidents of sexual assault due to the trauma of the assault and painful nature of reporting it, which often feels like reliving the assault. As few as one in 20 campus rapes gets reported. This may be largely because of misunderstandings about what constitutes rape; it may also be because victims who speak up about rape often face the stigma that goes with it.

So what can you do to make campuses safer from sexual assault? First and foremost, take responsibility (that means you too, men). Sexual assaults don’t just happen, they are committed by perpetrators. Don’t be that perpetrator; respect others, accept that no means no, and understand that drinking or using drugs or being in a relationship with someone does not mean that it isn’t assault.

Stick With People You Trust

The party over at the frat house may sound like fun, but before you attend it, do some investigating. Are some of your friends available to go with you? What kind of reputation do the guys at the frat house have? If anything you discover raises a red flag, don’t attend. If you do go, keep a death grip on your drink; even take it with you to the bathroom so no one can slip date-rape drugs into it. Also, don’t drink anything that tastes strange or that comes from an open punch bowl.

Control Your Situation

Sticking with people you know is not a sure-fire way to prevent sexual assault. In fact, it is often acquaintances who perpetrate acts of sexual assault. If someone you barely know offers to give you a ride home, say no. Your best bet is to call a taxi or walk home in a group. Keep in mind that alcohol often contributes to sexual assaults, so if you’re ever uncomfortable with the amount of drinking taking place at a party or when you’re on a date, leave.

Respect Yourself and Your Limits (and Those of Others)

Before you go to a party or on a date, know your limits and prepare for any situations that might try to push you beyond them. Practice being firm about saying no. Anyone who you think might stop liking you if you say no is a person that you do not want it your life. Drinking, drugs, dating someone, or the way your dance or dress is not a reason or an excuse for assault — EVER. No one is “asking for it” or “has it coming.” In general, be aware that no matter what, some people won’t respect your boundaries and consider learning some basic self-defense techniques.

Participate in a College Rape-Prevention Program

Some schools offer programs that equip students to better prevent sexual assaults. If such classes are available at your school, attend so you can learn detailed tips on how to protect yourself and be respectful of others. Share what you learn with your friends or invite them to attend with you.

Remember: It is everyone’s responsibility to make campuses as safe as possible. Learn how to protect yourself, respect others, take appropriate precautions, and create an environment that is safer for everyone.

Back-to-school fall rush is a huge time for retailers. In fact, the August back-to-school period is second only to the winter-holiday window (Thanksgiving-Christmas) in terms of seasonal spending. Here’s some perspective on the money matters and must-haves (including apps) for heading to college in 2015. You’ll be astonished by how much money is spent on goods beyond tuition, room and board, and textbooks. And don’t forget those downloads, they can help you with your courses, your wellness, and minding your money of course.

3 Money & Must-Haves

Your first year of college is your first real experience with independence, but there are so many choices, as well as responsibilities. You have classes to attend and social activities to explore. You may also work a part-time job, volunteer, or participate in extracurricular activities. Being a freshman is exciting, but it can be overwhelming.

Here are some common pitfalls to avoid during your first year of college:

1) Thinking It Will Be Just Like High School

One of the biggest mistakes freshmen make is thinking that college will be just like high school, but college isn’t like high school at all. You may have been the valedictorian of your high-school class without ever having to study for a single test, but don’t expect things to be so easy in college. Now that you are going to a university, you may find yourself surrounded by people just like you. However amazing you were in high school, these people may be equally amazing. You may even find that you are no longer the smartest person in the room — and that’s a good thing. Dial back the hubris and embrace your position. Don’t feel threatened, seize the opportunity to mix with some bright minds.

2) Working Too Hard but Not Smart Enough

This brings us to the second common pitfall: putting in too much effort but focusing that energy on the wrong things. Effort can be defined as taking action toward a goal. When you go to college, you find more extracurricular activities, course options, and social opportunities than were available to you ever before. It is easy to over-commit yourself and to try so hard to be the best in class or the best on your team that you get burned out. Instead of applying your effort, apply your willpower — that is, your ability to persevere. In other words, work smarter, not harder so you don’t burn yourself out on the wrong stuff.

3) Losing Focus

With so many new distractions, events, friends, and activities in college, it can be tough to really be there in the moment, giving full attention and not thinking about what you are going to do later or that cutie in the next row. Before you know it, you miss something important your professor said, you show up late or miss class because it’s Greek week, you fall behind on homework, or you miss a deadline with your financial aid/student loan paperwork and risk losing out on a college you dreamed of attending. Don’t let this happen to you.

4) Neglecting to Care for Yourself

In college, you get to eat what you want and sleep is something you do when you don’t have anything better to occupy your time. It may seem fun in the moment, but it is a big mistake. Overeating or eating the wrong foods can lead to the notorious “Freshman 15,” a very real situation in which many college students quickly put on 15 lbs. and stress their bodies carrying around that excess weight. Before you know it, you have problems concentrating and you don’t have any energy, plus you seem to get every cold that comes around and you’re out of breath just walking to class. Avoid this pitfall by keeping regular sleeping hours, exercising regularly, and eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

You finally have the chance to make your own decisions, plot your own course, and work toward the life you want. Don’t start off on the wrong foot!

Texas recently rolled out the welcome mat for concealed weapons on college campuses. The bill, known as the “campus carry” bill, will go into effect in August 2016 for universities and August 2017 for community colleges. Although private colleges can opt out of the bill, and public schools can designate “gun-free” zones, the measure has created a flurry of debate on both sides of the issue.

Supporters Claim the Bill Is a Protection

Republicans voted in favor of the new law. “I just feel that the time has come for us to protect the men and women of Texas who are carrying concealed on our campuses,” said the bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Allen Fletcher.

Supporters also claim that most of the people who will carry their guns on campus will be older, responsible students who simply want to protect themselves. The argument claims that villains will be villains regardless of laws, and the new bill lets law-abiding citizens guard themselves against the people who would choose to do them harm.

Some Gun-Rights Advocates Dislike the Bill

Some people who support the rights of students and others to carry concealed guns dislike the attention the bill has brought to the issue, and they claim the bill gives too much leeway to opponents of concealed weapons rights.

Students for Concealed Carry expressed opposition to the legislation, which the group said gives “opponents of campus carry exactly what they wanted — complete local control over licensed concealed carry . . . We at Students for Concealed Carry would appreciate it (if) the bill’s authors and sponsors would quit confusing the issue by claiming a victory for our side. We don’t need to hide behind a gutted bill to save face.”

Professors and Students Express Concerns

In a New York Times article, reporters Manny Fernandez and Dave Montgomery wrote that professors worry about seeing students in their offices alone to talk about failing grades, if they believe the students may be armed. The article also noted that Democratic lawmakers and some university leaders have concerns about hikes in security costs and the effects of the bill on bringing in new teachers and students from other states.

Some students also stated their worries about having concealed weapons on campus. “I don’t think guns should be allowed, because that’s pretty scary,” 18-year-old sophomore Sarah Wang said in the Times article. “We’ve already seen so many instances where people get hurt because there are guns in schools.”

Do Guns Belong on Campus?

When the bill goes into effect, Texas will join seven other states that allow concealed weapons on campuses; Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin already allow guns. Nineteen states ban guns, and 23 states leave the decision up to individual schools. The other states that do allow guns give more freedom to weapons owners than the Texas law does.

Rick Brown, the chief of police at Southern Utah University in Center City, where students and faculty can carry concealed weapons in most campus areas, claims the university’s gun policy has never led to any problems on campus.

Obviously, the issue of whether guns belong on campus is a polarizing one. Regardless of which side of the issue they stand on, however, students should take common-sense measures to protect themselves and be aware of school and state policies regarding concealed weapons.

Internships help you explore a field of study further, get experience in an industry, and build connections within a company. You may have to work for free or for a very low wage to have the privilege of learning from established professionals in your field or industry. The hours are usually long and the work can be plentiful, but when you do an internship abroad, you get to spend your days working in a field you love while exploring a new place. You may even get to learn a new language, and the experience itself, whether positive or negative, lets you explore a country you have always wanted to see while earning an impressive entry on your resume. It may sound like a dream, but scoring an internship abroad is a very real possibility and easier than you think.

Interning Abroad

Most schools in the United States will offer credit for qualified internships, but not all internships will qualify. That may or may not matter, depending on your particular field of study, the requirements of your program, the reason you want a particular internship, and the employment laws of the country in which you intend to complete your internship. Some colleges may not give you the necessary documentation you need to prove that you are completing an internship, so do your research before accepting an internship. Plus, whether your internship is paid, required, or counts for college credit can change the legal right you have in the host country and even the process you need to follow to get a visa.

Common Fees

Depending on your college, you may have to pay to get acknowledgement for your internship on your college transcript. In addition, many internships are unpaid or do not offer enough pay to support yourself financially while staying in the country. You will incur expenses for food and accommodations, as well as the adventures you will have. To be able to get a visa to your host country, you will need to prove that you have adequate financial support before paying the fees for the visa. Travel expenses also have to be tallied as well as health care. Make sure you have an emergency fund, just in case.

Websites to Use

There are organizations that offer internship abroad placement services for a fee but you don’t need to use them to find a great opportunity. You can find internships in your host country on your own through sites like, which provides information about programs for studying, interning, and learning a language in different countries, and, which offers a variety of information about volunteering, studying, teaching, and interning abroad. Both provide reviews as well as information. The career placement services office at your college may also be able to help.

Interning abroad is a great way to earn work experience while gaining life experience. Being in a different country, with a different language, different customs, and a different culture, makes an internship abroad challenging — you’ll be away from friends and family, and will likely have difficulties communicating — but the trade-off is worth it as long as you do your research first.