Devalued, Misunderstood, and Marginalized: Why Nontraditional Students’ Experiences Should be Included in the Diversity Discourse
Objective: This paper presents a rationale for discussing the marginalization of nontraditional students in the diversity discourse. Background: There is tremendous growth in adult college student enrollment, however marginalization of the nontraditional population is perpetuated through institutional policies and practices. Although there has been improvement in educational access for these students, they are still neglected programmatically and in service provision, similar to underrepresented student populations. This neglect is apparent in the omission of their experiences in scholarly diversity literature. Method: A content analysis of 706 sources was conducted to determine how often and in what ways nontraditional adult student experiences are explored as diversity issues. Results: A huge gap in the diversity literature regarding nontraditional adult students’ experiences exists. Conclusion: This oversight silences adult students’ voices and impedes their academic and economic progress. Application: Increasing diversity publications about adult students’ experiences as a marginalized population will provide resources to educate diversity scholars, practitioners, and college personnel.