NPR

For These Young, Nontraditional College Students, Adulting Is A Requirement

Meet the "nontraditional" college students of today. From left: Evan Spencer, Kim Embe, Bailey Nowak, Diana Platas and Eric Ramos. Source: NPR

They are early risers and hard workers. They have a "talent for struggling through" and the determination that follows. Some are the first in their family to go to college — or even graduate from high school — and many are financially independent from their parents. They're often struggling to pay for rent, groceries and transportation while taking classes. And that means working while in school — in retail, on campus or even with a lawn care business.

Meet the "nontraditional" college students of today. Though they are among the estimated 12.3 million students who are under 25 years old, their lives look very different from the "typical" student we see in movies and TV.

The stories below offer a glimpse into their lives and the challenges they face.

Elissa Nadworny, NPR


Eric Ramos, 19, San Antonio

Eric Ramos says he's been poor all his life. His mom always told him, "Go to school. You'll be better off," and he says that's what he's doing. But it hasn't been easy.

Ramos is the youngest of three brothers and is the first in his family to graduate from high school. He lives in San Antonio with his mom and one of his brothers, and he also helps support them.

"I'm paying the light bill," Ramos says. "I pay half the

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