Educational Options for the non Traditional Student

More and more people are returning to advance their education after having spent time in the real world learning the true value of formal learning. Because they are not going into college straight from high school and generally have responsibilities beyond being a student, they are termed as non traditional students.

The problem with categorizing non traditional students is that they have such a variety of differences within their ranks.

Some are married or unmarried, but have children to care nurture. Others have mortgages to pay. Most must work a significant number of hours each week to maintain their existence while completing their education. Often non traditional students cannot relocate for school. They often have to go school part time because of their family and job schedules. Options exist to assist them in their special requirements for flexible class schedules, shorter diploma or degree completion times, and classes that are convenient to where they live.

Accelerated class schedules can benefit the non traditional student.

Because non traditional students frequently are looking for a way to elevate their earnings potential in the shortest possible time, having semesters that can be completed in 6 to 10 weeks is a blessing. Their two year degree can be earned in a year or slightly more. Converting an associates to a bachelors degree can be done in two years going one or two nights per week. While the completion time is still similar, only taking one or two classes per semester allows the student to meet most other non school obligations. A masters degree is frequently set up to finish a year to year and a half.

Remedial education is available to returning students who have lost their school skills.

Two or three levels of writing and algebra below the college level are now offered by community colleges. Students who were not great in these subjects in high school or are just too far removed from those classes to be ready for college level work can learn the material while building up rusty study skills. Each layer of classes builds on the previous level. Once these are completed, the vast majority of students find it to be a baby step to take their first college level English composition or algebra course. Getting A’s or B’s in the lower classes also builds up confidence for the non traditonal student to continue with educational pursuits.

Distance and online learning classes facilitate the non traditional student’s educational goals to be reality.

For the motivated learner, distance and online classes can be the ticket to flexible class schedules. While some computer oriented classes are created with set class times, many are not. These classes allow students to log on to the system when their schedule allows. They can literally go to school during the day, evening, or night. Because flexible class schedules, they can mix and match class times to still be able to work and meet family needs. Motivation is the key to success in this mode of education.

Trade schools often offer a mix of classroom and on the job education.

For those who are entering a trade, these schools can be the ticket to advancement. You can learn to work on houses, cars, electric, heating and air conditioning, and a host of other options. Many of these programs will allow an internship for credit with local contractors and businesses that make an earn as you learn environment. The graduates frequently leave school to full time employment with the company that they served as an intern.

Sometimes parents, grandparents, or a spouse will be able to fund the non traditional student’s education.

This means that although these students are technically non traditional, they can enter the education ranks with a much more traditional approach. Especially those who are childless or have family members willing to bear the load of child care, they can schedule classes when they are available and move as a traditional student through the channels of education. Often, student loans and grants help make up a portion of the educational costs. Concessions sometimes have to be made within the family to free up study time for the student.

Seminars, workshops, and company funded education can benefit the non traditional student.

Some companies offer scholarships and time off from work to attend classes. Others offer tuition to seminars, conventions, and workshops where CEU’s (continuing education credits) can be earned. These credits along with job training and experience are accepted at some colleges in place of classroom instruction. These life experience credits sometimes are charged for at the same rate as classroom hours. Getting credit this way can earn a non traditional student 20 to 30 hours of education without the time investment. It can shorten the time to earn a degree by a year or more. This is often the difference between being able to earn a degree or not.