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Just what is a nontraditional student? And how do they feel going back to school?
Some say only students a LOT older qualify for this name - - say, maybe 30 and over? Others (most others, I think) say that anyone who is not a "traditional" student - living on campus, single, etc. is a nontraditional one.
Sometimes the line is blurred. But I think most students who don't fit the traditional mold can feel somehow like an outsider at school - like somebody who doesn't quite fit in. In fact, I have had some people say that even though they MIGHT be able to do an online class, going back to school with younger students just terrifies them! Some younger students make a point of including them in conversations. Others would rather they just didn't exist - - which is really a moot point, because they do exist, and in higher numbers than ever.
I have written an article that hopefully will be published on another blog soon. I will list the link here as soon as I can. It has to do with Fear and the Nontraditional Student. I do think that there are some fears that nontraditional students have that can hold them back. I think nowadays, though, that older, "nontrad" students are learning to overcome their fears and to welcome the chance to interact with younger, more traditional students.
Other nontraditional students are shouldering heavy family responsibilities and money woes. I don't think we can clump everyone in the same basket always, but I do think that many nontraditional students have a lot in common, such as:
1. Less time to study
2. A lack of encouragement from family or friends
3. Family responsibilities that can take time away from schoolwork
4. A feeling of being "less than" or not being as prepared as younger students
5. A greater focus on where they are going, and a more serious outlook about school.
6. More stories and life experiences they love to share with others
I think it's good for different groups to interact, whether it is in an online or face-to-face class. It is my hope that the diversity of the modern classroom will have a positive effect - - helping younger students to appreciate how seriousness has its place, and for older students to realize that fun and a sense of play have their place in education too, and can make the whole experience even better.
All for now!
Some of my links!
The Nontrad site and blog
Join Nontrads on Facebook (be member #166)