The Difference Between a Curricular & Non-Curricular Student


Notable differences exist between a curricular and non-curricular student. Junior and community colleges offer both enrollment types. Educators define curriculum as any material or activity that assists a person with learning. Most curricular students have specific academic and professional plans for their future. Non-curricular programs help certain individuals develop their potential. Sometimes non-curricular students obtain their status via occupational requirements.


  • One of the main differences between a curricular and non-curricular student starts with the enrollment purpose. Upon successful completion of their program, curricular students obtain a degree or certificate. They enroll in additional educational programs to further their education. Non-curricular students require academic enrichment. Their enrollment purpose varies. Individuals with weak educational backgrounds, but seeking higher education, benefit from additional support offered by non-curricular status. Professionals required to take occupational enrichment courses also obtain non-curricular student status.


  • Differences between a curricular and non-curricular student are seen with the admissions process. Both student types submit application forms, but students seeking curricular status submit their official high school or general educational development transcript. Non-curricular candidates are exempt from this requirement, but must meet prerequisites as dictated by the college. Some institutions require non-curricular candidates to meet with academic advisory staff as part of the application process. Transcripts and outside academic recommendations are used to determine academic potential for curricular candidates.

College Preparation

  • Another difference between curricular and non-curricular students involves planning. Curricular students planned on obtaining a post-secondary education. Their secondary education consisted of courses and training focused on college preparatory skills. Non-curricular students tend not to be as prepared for college life and need help adjusting. Some facilities offer additional support for students classified as transient. Transient students enroll in college and then drop out, never obtaining a degree. Transient non-curricular students receive additional counseling to construct an academic plan.

College Guidance

  • Differences between a curricular and non-curricular student are seen in the guidance provided by college counselors. Curricular applicants are approached as more goal-oriented individuals. Counselors help with selecting the right major and enrolling in classes with the best credit transfer potential. Counselors and enrollment departments see non-curricular students as attempting to gain a stronger academic foothold. Advice for these students is less about the future, and more about becoming a stronger student on a daily basis.


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