UA part-time population trumps national average

The UAA Institute of Social and Economic Research compiled a study in 2008 that found the UA system part-time student population was significantly higher than the national average.

The study, published by Theodore L. Kassier and Alexandra Hill, reported the UA part-time population average as 62 percent, and the national average at a low 43 percent.

“UA also has considerably more older and part-time students than the average university,”

the report stated.

The report implies that UAA, along with other UA universities, will continue to see this peculiar trend.

A later study compiled in 2010 by the Statewide Planning and Institutional Research showed that the UA percentage has only slightly dropped to 60 percent.  

UAA selectively sees 56 percent of their student population only attending part-time. Michael Smith, a representative of Enrollment Management on the Administrative, Professional, and Technical Council, sees a lot of different factors involved in these numbers.

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“One of the factors is we have a nontraditional student base bigger than some of our sister schools,” Smith said.

UAA sees less students coming directly from high school into college. Because of that trend, jobs and the nearby military base serve as indicators as to why most UAA students are not attending full time.

“If you were to look at that part time student base, those are students working and going to school at the same time, or in the military and going to school at the same time,” Smith said.  

Smith also pointed out that the UA school system is organized as a large community college with several different campuses. Compare that to the City of College of San Francisco, the largest commuter school in the nation with a part-time population of 74 percent, and the UA numbers begin to make sense.

“We have a lot of community members returning to school, adults returning to school,” Smith stated.

According to the 2011 UA in Review report the largest age group at UAA is those student between the ages of 20-24.

The Assistant Vice Chancellor of Enrollment at UAA, Eric Pedersen, expanded upon Smith’s statements.

“The number one reason is the fact that we only have dorm space for 1000 students. So that means about 15000 students are living off campus,” Pedersen explained. He further clarified that UAA is a commuter campus.

“If somebody out there broke universities into categories of commuter, we would probably look comparable to them.”

But organizations geared towards readying high school seniors for the college application process have done that.

One such website,, listed top ten commuter schools in the nation, and each did not begin to compare with UAA’s part-time student ratio.

The University of Houston, the number one commuter school according to the list, only sees a part-time population of 29 percent.

And the University of Alabama at Birmingham, another school on the list, only views 32 percent of their students as part-time.

Community geared college campuses, not commuting, along with jobs and military seem to explain the disparity between UA’s number of part-time students and the national average.

UA defines part-time student as taking less than 12 credit hours per semester.