Nov 15, 2012
By Chillicothe Campus student writer Jasmine Garcia
Deciding to go back to college is a big commitment. But it's one that many adults are deciding to pursue.
"I think if [non-traditional students] want to come back to school, more power to them," said Kaitlyn Reed, a traditional college student majoring in nursing. "I think they have more to say, they have experienced life and I'm just a 19-year-old right out of high school. They have more input and insight."
Having class with students who have experienced the real world is an invaluable resource to students who have recently graduated from high school.
"The older students have many life experiences they can share, and this offers traditional students a wider view of the world that we would otherwise not be exposed to in college," said Kristen Smith, a traditional college student majoring in early childhood education.
"More than likely the administrators for whom I work will be older, and I have been able to develop the ability to hold a conversation and feel comfortable around people of this age, which will help me in my career," said Smith.
Dona Pelletier, a non-traditional student majoring in health services administration, says she tries to give traditional students the benefit of her life experiences. This experience with someone of an older age will be important for these younger students when they graduate and enter the workforce.
Having a mix of students creates a more realistic picture of what the real world looks like, as well.
"The blend of traditional and non-traditional students adds diversity to the campus," said Robert Weaver, a traditional student majoring in psychology. "There is a big difference between older and traditional students in terms of what the non-traditional students have seen and experienced."
With age often comes a level of wisdom and non-traditional students set a great example for younger students.
"They bring a certain maturity to class discussions," said Weaver. "The older students tend to carry themselves differently, and we, as younger students, can learn from that."
However, younger students sometimes take on the teaching role when helping non-traditional students with technological skills. The younger students also help to reassure their older classmates that they are on the right track and able to succeed.
"The traditional students who I work with in the tutoring center tell me you know this, you are just confusing some things and you've totally got this," said Traci Hall, a non-traditional nursing student, who added that her peers can face challenges in finding their footing after being out of the classroom environment for so long, and this is something important for faculty members to realize."
"We relate to our professors a little bit differently depending on what the subject matter it. But other times, for instance, such as when I work in the library where many of the students are so much younger, we all joke and find the same types of things funny, so it's not awkward in that type of setting," Hall said.
Although the age difference might raise eyebrows, at the end of the day age is just a number, and non- traditional and traditional students are regular people striving to earn a degree.
"Some of the younger students are asking me what made me want to come back and we're finding that we have similar interests," said Hall. "It's kind of cool because it kind of makes us feel we are all the same even though we are two different types of students."