You will find someone or several persons who don’t fit your description of a college student in almost every college classroom. This set of students may look older than the rest.
If you take a closer inquisition, you will discover that some of these students are full-time employees and single parents. Others have taken a long break from schooling after high school. These students don’t have the same schedules as the 16-20+ students in their class. They have unique challenges. They have different needs. These students are referred to as non-traditional students.
Who Is a Non-Traditional Student?
There is no specific definition for the term “Non-traditional Students.” However, there are specific criteria that make a student. The U.S. National Centre for Education Statistics lists about seven principles that make one a non-traditional student:
Delayed Transition From High School To College
Many, students take a break from schooling after high school. Some of these students take up remote jobs to gain experience and make an informed career decision. Others work to meet some financial obligations. Also, some students volunteer for non-profit organizations and join the military.
Read More: What Is An Exchange Student?
Working Status Above 35 Hours Per Week
Those who work above 35-hours per week fall under the fully-employed category in many countries and is considered a non-traditional student. These students cannot meet up with the class schedules of traditional students because of their work.
Most of these employees return to college to earn higher degrees and receive promotions. But some of these students are seeking to change their career paths.
Students who can cater to their college bills are likely to be income earners. These students may have paid jobs or own small businesses that generate income. They are often torn between work and school. So, they are likely to have different schedules from traditional students.
Read More: Do Student Loans Affect Credit Score?
Responsible For Kids Or Any Other Dependent
Students who have kids and dependent relatives need time to balance their family responsibilities and school work. These students are non-traditional.
Single parents share the same characteristics as those who are responsible for their kids and dependents. They need even more time to cater to their kids. Attending regular college classes may be challenging for single parents if they decide to pursue a college degree.
Many colleges around the world have part-time graduate and undergraduate programs. These programs are designed to allow students to attend weekend and vacation classes.
General Educational Development (GED) certification is an alternative certification to the U.S. and Canada High School diploma. It is a test that includes four general subjects. It is often taken by students who did not complete their high school program.
Many non-traditional students use GED to gain admission into college. Some of them may have dropped out of high school or may not have attended high school.
Read More: Can You Become Incel If You Study Abroad?
Some authorities also include those who are above 24 years in their non-traditional student’s list. Non-traditional students are students who meet or more of these criteria. About 75% of all U.S. college students meet one or more of these criteria and are non-traditional students.
Employees who are seeking promotion, retirement benefits, and career change make the highest percentage of the total non-traditional students. But other non-traditional students return to college for personal and professional development.
Challenges of Non-Traditional Students
Universities and colleges have continued to seek innovative ways to help non-traditional students obtain their college degrees. Non-traditional students have unique challenges. Some of these challenges include:
Balancing School Life and Work-Life
Finding the right balance between two demanding worlds is the most challenging thing for non-traditional students. Imagine driving to work and school every day. Imagine having office duties and course assignments on the same night.
Non-traditional students like single parents have demanding domestic chores, work demands, and their school work. It can be stressful.
The world is becoming more tech-savvy every second. Software developers have continued to challenge existing applications and processes to make life more efficient for everyone. Many colleges are incorporating modern technologies into their curriculum. Non-traditional students who have been disconnected from some of these new technologies may be unable to cope.
A lot of things about the campus environment will be new to many non-traditional students. Some things could even be annoying or irritating to some elderly non-traditional students.
A lot of emotional interplays will also be a problem for many non-traditional students. For example, sitting in the same class as young folks can affect one’s self-esteem and confidence. It may take some weeks for a non-traditional student to adapt to their new learning environment.
Many non-traditional students are financially independent. Also, off-campus living expenses are often high. Non-traditional students often need financial aids to cover their college and living expenses.
Options Non-Traditional Students
Online programs are very flexible for non-traditional students. Online programs allow people to study from their homes or offices. They are the best alternative for non-traditional students, but they are quite expensive.
Accelerated programs are short-term degree programs. Some colleges waive the first year for many students. Others use placements and prior-learning credits to select only a few courses for the student training.
Full Part-time Programs
Part-time degree programs are mainly designed for school teachers who intend to improve their academic index. The part-time program often runs during the weekends and extended vacations. They are usually longer than the regular schedule. But they are good options for those who prioritize doing one thing at a time.
Non-traditional students should always look out for financial aid opportunities, especially scholarships. You can quickly secure postgraduate scholarships even before you resume classes.
Non-traditional students are like any other college student. They are enthusiastic about learning, and most of them earn their degrees with good grades. They could have unique challenges, but many colleges are developing initiatives that will tackle these challenges.