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Section Name

The Forum

Abstract

After the G.I. Bill was passed in 1944, the United States saw a massive expansion of higher education. The subsequent economic growth, expanding middle class, and support of public education meant that more Americans had access to college education than ever before (Bok, 2006).

In the decades that followed, a typical or “traditional” college student was a person who entered a four-year university at the age of eighteen immediately after completing high school, attended full time, considered their education a full-time responsibility, had no dependents, was employed part time or not at all, and graduated in four years (Center for Institutional Effectiveness, 2004; Ross-Gordon, 2011).

Most descriptions also assume that traditional students are born in the United States, speak English as their first language, and live in student housing on or near campus. However, the majority of students in college and university classrooms today do not reflect these “traditional” characteristics.

In 2014-2015, 886,052 international students were enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities (Institute for International Education, 2014), and many universities facing budget cuts are trying to increase international student recruiting.

Since the basic communication course is frequently required for most or all students at many colleges and universities as part of a general education requirement, and because the basic course is typically intended to help incoming undergraduate students build communication skills that they will use in other courses, their future careers, and in their communities, this diversity of student preparation and experience has important implications for how we approach the basic course.