When you picture a college campus, you probably think of fresh-faced undergrads straight out of high school, floating between class and parties and ultimate frisbee.
But for many students, college happens a little later in life and is just one of several commitments vying for time with full-time jobs or raising a family.
In fact, about 40% of all college students are 25 or older, about the same percentage work at least 30 hours a week and about 25% are single parents. Which means their college criteria may not include a Division I football team.
So what is important? To rank the best two- and four-year colleges for adult students, Washington Monthly took into account things like the availability of on-campus child care and other services; whether students can earn credits through life experience; flexible programs, like weekend and/or evening classes; the percentage of students 25 or older; affordability; mean earnings of students 10 years after entering college; and loan repayment rates five years after entering repayment.
In contrast to more mainstream rankings like U.S. News & World Report, no Ivy League schools made the grade — and you may not even recognize some of the winners.
Best 4-Year Colleges for Students 25+
1. Golden Gate University-San Francisco
2. University of Utah
3. Concordia University-St. Paul (Minnesota)
4. Park University (Missouri)
5. George Mason University (Virginia)
6. Bellevue University (Nebraska)
7. Indiana Wesleyan University
8. University of Oklahoma-Norman
9. Marylhurst University (Oregon)
10. University of North Dakota
Washington Monthly also ranked the best two-year colleges, a category not taken into consideration in U.S. News' annual list. But as the New York Times reported, a two-year degree can earn graduates almost 20% more annually than a high school diploma alone.
Best 2-Year Colleges for Students 25+
1. Weber State University (Utah)
2. Utah Valley University
3. Foothill College (California)
4. Central Texas College
5. Raritan Valley Community College (New Jersey)
6. Columbia College (Missouri)
7. Howard Community College (Maryland)
8. Renton Technical College (Washington)
9. Montgomery College (Maryland)
10. Capital Community College (Connecticut)
To create the rankings, data for 1,133 four-year colleges and 1,292 two-year colleges was compiled from two federal government sources and the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges.