Hope... it's what some nontraditional students need most right now.
HOPE. That is what some nontraditional students need right now most of all in their lives. It is crunch time, time to finish reports and projects, time to get ready for yet another test. These students may have bitten off more than they can chew. They might be very nervous because they have SO much work to do, and only so much time.
How can we help?
If we are in school, and know another nontraditional student (besides ourselves) that seems to need help, we can reach out. We may not be able to change much, but I do believe that talking about it, or at least acknowledging somebody else's difficulties is very important.
I remember a few years ago meeting a student who was with me for student teaching semester. That semester, we worked so hard. And paid for the privilege! I learned so much. Of course, there were ups and downs, but I was not going to quit, no matter what. I did have a great supervising teacher and classroom teacher who mentored me and helped me realize my strengths as well as my weaknesses.
My fellow student and I were in the same school for our student teaching training. One day, he told me that semester was going to be his last. I was shocked. "Really?" I asked. His face was set, rigid. It was obvious to me that he was holding some feelings back, and it was hard for him. "Yeah," he replied. "You know, this respect business has to go both ways." He meant respect by the students. "I gave them respect," he said, "and all I got was a lot of really bad disrespect, all the way," he added. It was obvious he was upset about this, but had come to a painful decision to leave teaching and try something else. It had just been really hard for him.
I responded to him by saying that maybe I could help. "Maybe I can come to your classroom on my break period and help out," I suggested. He shook his head. "No, I have made up my mind. Sometimes things just don't work out. But thanks for the offer," he said. Of course, we were both in a hurry right then to get back to class before the bell. But I made it clear my offer of help was there in case he needed it. And I'm glad I did that. I hope it made a difference to know that help was nearby.
I sometimes wonder what that student did next. He was going to take a real blow if he did not continue. It takes from two to four years to get all the classes you need to become a teacher if you are not in an accelerated program. He would lose a lot of time. I wondered what he would do next. I felt so bad for him. But maybe things turned out okay. Maybe it was that proverbial Blessing in Disguise.
Now I think about it and realize that people go back to school and don't necessarily fit into the job they thought they would love. Or realize that the training they had really didn't do what they wanted it to do (like the English degree I got the first time I went to school!)
But this kind of thing (realizing that a career is not for you) also happens to much younger people too.
My point? There is always hope. There is hope no matter what is happening at school. What is happening right now will pass, no matter how stressful it is right now. Just saying.
I remember once reading an excellent article about people going back to school that had a great point in it about classes. "Remember," it said, "Failing a class is NOT the end of the world. You can always retake the class." I had never thought about it that way. But of course that is true! And you can always rethink your choice of major or minor, or EVEN your career or field.
HOPE. Like the woman on the cancer commercial whose doctor had given her three months to live, we know that "HOPE IS a mainstay, and IS everything."
I had a phone call once from a fellow nontraditional student. She had found my name out from the school newspaper, which had an ad for a nontraditional student group I founded. This student was really super depressed. She needed hope. She ended up calling the (free) student counseling service and getting help. That is what counselors are trained for; to give people hope when they can't see it for themselves.
Do you know another student who is running out of courage or hope? Talk to them, help them find hope, and maybe just show them that he or she has a friend. It could make all the difference.
Some Nontrad links: The Nontrad site and blog Join Nontrads on Facebook Nontrads on Yahoo Nontrads on Twitter
The wonderful HOPE sign at the top of the blog is by DieselDemon on Flickr.