Monday, May 12, 2014

Who is the Nontraditional Student?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimates that 38 percent of students are identifying as nontraditional, and that number estimated to increase more than 20 percent by 2019.

Embarking on the road to academia can prove stressful for any individual.  There is the issue of finances, housing, time management, and of course integrating one’s self socially.  Going through this exciting, and at times uncomfortable experience has been a rite of passage of America’s youth for as long as can be remembered. However, times they are a changing, and gone are the days of exclusively youth driven enrollment (under 24 years of age).
So what constitutes a student as nontraditional?  According to the NCES, for a student to be considered nontraditional they must embody at least 1 or more of the 7 factors:

·         Has financial independence

·         Does not enter post-secondary education within the same year that they finished high school

·         No high school diploma

·         Single parent

·         Works 35 hours or more

·         Attends part time

·         Has a dependent other than spouse

Dawn McClintock of Concord New Hampshire, is among one of hundreds of thousands of nontraditional students continuing her education this year.  According to the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics), McClintock would be considered a high level nontraditional student, based on the fact that she checks out with 5 of the seven factors.

McClintock is a mother, part time student, married, financially independent, and works a 40 hour a week job.  So with all these balls in the air how is it that she finds time in her busy schedule for school?
 “I tried the traditional class scenario,” says McClintock, “I could see right off the bat that it just couldn't work. Between the commute and incredibly structured deadlines, I knew I needed something different."
So many non traditional students are mothers, fathers and/or full time employees struggling to make it all work within the confines of a stringent schedule.
Brooke Hackett, 36, mother of two year old twin boys, and full time radiologist at St. Joesph's Hospital in Nashua, is about to go back for her second round as a non traditional student at PSU.
"I think anyone can make it work these days if they are motivated enough," says Hackett. "Its no longer the institution that it used to be, finding schools that can fit into strict schedules and budgets are cropping up all over the place."
Hackett went back to school for the first time when she was 27, "I saw that I needed to move forward, and the radiology program at NHTI ended up being the perfect fit for me. It fit my budget and although it was intense, the class structure seemed to be geared toward non traditional students.  I was able to work and finish with my degree in hand."

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