The Typical Nontraditional Student

Steacie Science and Engineering Library at Yor...Image via Wikipedia Some thoughts for today: Qualities and Some of My Ideas about Nontraditional Students.
First of all, I realize that there is not ever a "typical" anything. Every nontraditional student is unique. But sometimes I notice some trends. These opinions I have are are taken from the nontraditional students that I have met either in class face to face, in online classes, or via comments about nontraditional issues.
Here is what I have noticed.

#1. Nontrads are positive thinkers. I believe that even if the occasional nontraditional student might say he or she does NOT believe in positive thinking, he or she still exudes a positivity that can be catching. (So watch out, people around nontrads - - you might get an infectious dose of this.) Maybe the very fact that the nontraditional student is finally THERE and back at school might be the cause of this positivity. Sometimes nontrads can THINK about going back to school for years, but not do it. Then if they do follow through finally, they are pretty proud of that.
#2. Nontrads have a goal. And they can be focused on it, sometimes even too much. You will see them in the library, in the computer lab, and sitting at study tables a lot. If you ask them if they want to do something un-school-related, they usually say no.
The exception to this is hanging out with other nontrads at club meetings. This they usually justify as school-related because they might hear a study tip there now and then. But, to explain this lack of fun-quotient, it must be said that nontrads do have plenty of other things to do besides attending school, like work, take care of kids, etc. which does partially explain things.

#3. Nontrads are natural sharers. They love to share their experience and stories. This can rub other students the wrong way at times, especially when they have their hand up every time an instructor asks a question. I mean, OTHER students do want to answer a question now and then, and nontrads can be rather pushy about wanting to do this too much. It is very hard for nontrads to stop this behavior, but most do learn to bite their tongues eventually.
It is important to know that wanting to share stories and experiences is usually NOT meant to be one-upmanship towards younger students, despite the popular belief that it is done to brag or get on the instructor's good side. It just feels so great to be able to finally connect an experience to new learning. It is a great feeling to do this.

#4. (Most) Nontrads do want to be accepted. Many are shy, and have self-doubt about their abilities at first when they are back in school. They sometimes conpensate for this by seeming aloof. But nothing is farther from the truth in most cases. They would welcome a word of greeting from a younger student (if they are attending face-to-face classes) or, at the very least, would love it if a story or joke would continue when they enter a room. If they could talk about it, many would say they would just like to be a normal part of the class, and not treated as a parent or another teacher. This is easier wanted than accomplished with younger students, I am sure.

I got a comment from another nontraditional student once. I had mentioned that nontraditional students want to go to school and get good grades, yes, but they also would like to make friends while they are in school. "Not me!" the nontraditional student said. "All I want is to get the grade, and get out." (I paraphrase here...)

I responded that more students had told me that they wanted to feel connected. I think that some nontraditional students get connected with age-related groups or clubs at school, and some can blend in with the younger group of students.  Sometimes it all depends on the age or make-up of the students themselves.

What is your opinion? Are there qualities YOU notice about yourself as a nontraditional student, or about other nontraditional students? What makes you unique and sets you apart from younger students?

Do you think attitudes are changing because of the big influx of nontraditional students now entering high schools, colleges, and grad schools?

Let me know.

All for now - - I am nontraditionally yours,

And here are some other postings you might like:
Finding Scholarships and Grants for School
11 More Tips for Success (for nontrads)
Don't drop out of school, older nontrad student!
Nontrads and younger friends, and
Just for nontrads: how to make friends in college

Some (more) Nontrad links: The Nontrad site and blog Join Nontrads on Facebook Nontrads on Yahoo Nontrads on Twitter
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