Back to school... here's to happy experiences.

And they are not all happy experiences for everyone...

Raining Stamp from Clker.com









I communicated with another nontraditional student recently, who said she was moving to another area to try being a nontraditional student in another place.

She was disappointed about what had happened to her. She was not through with trying to better herself, though, and would make another try in her new town.

Why? Because she didn't have a good experience at her first school. And she didn't want to try there or live there any more. I heard that she was uncomfortable - - that she had not felt like she belonged there. I wonder what happened.

I can only guess right now, until or if I ever find out what happened.

My guesses (from what I heard and interpolated):

1. She did not feel like she fit in at school.

2. People stared at her and she felt uncomfortable a lot of the time.

3. She was not in a nontraditional student group.

4. She did not have any friends at school, no matter what age.

5. It was such a bad experience, that she felt that it was no use trying again at the same school.

What she did not have was much support, either, from the school, it sounded like.

There are things schools can do to try to keep more nontraditional students from leaving school and/or giving up.

People who help older students who are going back to school after a break call the whole study of keeping older students IN school Nontraditional Student Retention.

A paper called Catalyst v23nd - the Student in Higher Education: Nontraditional Student Retention (written by Betty A. Allen of the University of Alabama) says that students drop out for different reasons. They state that the attrition rate can be as high as  32%.

I find it interesting that nontraditional students stay in school more when they feel valued. Teachers can make some changes that can help older students stay in school too, such as to give assignments a good bit ahead of time. The article also says that sympathetic advisors can help a lot.

It's a good article - I liked it.

To me, it's different for every student. And the older student must take some responsibility for success too. Are you not fitting in as well as you'd like? Sometimes this can happen. Can you still learn in such an environment? Well, yes.

And you yourself can help improve a bad situation sometimes, too - by maybe speaking to another student in class, forming a study group, or maybe even starting a nontraditional student group.

It's food for thought. Every nontrad story is not a success story, that is true. But I hope that one day, all nontraditional students can feel comfortable going back to school.

It's an attitude thing with younger students sometimes, but they are not all prejudiced and unfriendly. I found an opposite reaction from some new friends I made when I was back in school in my late 40's.

And many school now have great support systems. Try the Nontrad Site, find your state, and see if there is a nontraditional student support system at a school there. If there isn't, there will be some day.

I have a good feeling about that!

-Betsyanne
Former Nontraditional Student
English/Allied Arts Teaching, WKU

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