Nontraditional students are most likely in one, if not several, of traditional students’ classrooms. While nontraditional students who enter the university at a later time in their life are becoming more commonplace, it may be difficult for them to feel comfortable in an environment where they are older than the majority of students.
Students involved in the First Year Leadership Program put together an organization called LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) to encourage adults without a degree to go to college and further their education.
Many adults who choose to go back to school might be intimidated by not knowing whether they’d fit in in a typical college classroom.
This is an understandable reason to be timid, but we at The Rocket agree that while the age discrepancy between traditional and nontraditional might be hard to adjust to for both parties at first, that it is valuable to have nontraditional students’ insights and opinions in the classroom.
Often times, professors are also considerably older than traditional students, so when professors provide an example to students that happened before they were born, they may not be able to understand it.
In this instance, the nontraditional student could offer further understanding and examples, which would in-turn allow them to serve as a liason for traditional students to understand information that may be abstract to them.
In addition, the life experiences that nontraditional students have can benefit traditional students. Since they have lived lives outside of academics, their experiences in the “real world” are invaluable, and classmates of all ages benefit from discussion across barriers because education is about pushing past our own worldview.
No nontraditional student should enter SRU believing that their input and ideas are invalid. The fact that they are choosing to reenter the world of formal education shows a lot about their integrity and self-worth. Any student with this amount of self-worth shouldn’t be made to feel as though they are worthless simply because they have entered college at a later date.
At The Rocket, we encourage communication, cooperation and open-mindedness among different groups of people It’s our business to facilitate the transmission of ideas and viewpoints. For that reason, we value the voices of older students.
More important than our differences, though are our similarities. No matter what age, every student at Slippery Rock is enrolled to get a quality education, so every student has that in common. In an educational environment that prides itself on collaboration and community, every student is valuable, perhaps particularly those who seem “nontraditional.”