Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Advisor

Carol Ann Sharicz


Nontraditional students, defined as those age 25 and older, had a first-year persistence rate of just 46.8% in 2019 (National Student Clearinghouse, 2021). The Education Fund, a large non-profit that provides training and tuition assistance to healthcare workers, is acutely aware of this problem as its membership is made up almost entirely of nontraditional learners. The Education Fund has many college readiness programs, and in an effort to improve upon their outcomes, requested this study on student persistence. Research on nontraditional student persistence was conducted and key Education Fund staff were interviewed as part of this project. While the literature lacks robust studies, there are strategies that could be implemented to improve the likelihood Education Fund members will persist. Engagement with the college community, specifically instructors and peers, is key to nontraditional students’ success. Given the gap between what the Education Fund offers and the strategies that are most likely to improve persistence, recommendations include increasing the data collected on student outcomes, enhancing the existing intake process, creating an orientation program, and establishing a mentoring program. The Education Fund offers an impressive array of programs and given its size, nearly 10,000 nontraditional learners in credit and non-credit courses, it could make a significant contribution to what has thus far been an intractable problem.