Non-Traditional Student Problems

I am going to tell you about a funny thing that happened on the way to my bachelor’s degree, as a non-traditional student.   But first, what is a non-traditional student?

According to The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), A non-traditional student is defined as a student with one or more of these characteristics (1):

  • Do not immediately continue your education after you graduate from high school
  • Attend college only part time
  • Work full time (35 hours or more per week)
  • Are financially independent
  • Have children or dependents other than your spouse
  • Are a single parent
  • Have a GED, not a high school diploma

I have attended a number of different colleges at different times in my life.  I attended 1  year of college after high school, got married had children, got divorced, went back to school, got a job.  I then later returned to school, and finished my associates degree in my 30’s.  I did this to be more marketable to other Law Enforcement agencies who were starting to require a higher level of education for their candidates.  I had no idea if I was going to be put back to work or not, and needed to be able to get another job.

Fortunately I have always looked younger than I am, so I was able to blend in a little with younger students.  I really enjoyed college the second time around and got stellar grades (unlike my first year).

10 years later I went back and finished my bachelor’s degree.  This time, I was attending school with people the age of my children. Do not be afraid to go back to school if you are older.  I can tell you, I had a blast!  I was asked to join the Criminal Justice Honor Society.  We did a lot of community projects and went on trips to (New York City and Dallas).  As  college student most of these trips are sponsored in part by the school and partially paid for by fundraising.  I think it cost me $100-$200 bucks at the most (not including shopping or sightseeing)! Eventually they figured it out but I was already accepted into the group.   Again, fortunately I look younger than I really am.  But then this happened…

Several semesters in, on the first day of one of my Criminal Justice classes, the professor handed out a survey.  It asked for a variety of demographics including, what year (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior?), personal income, household income, number of people in your household, age, along with various questions to determine what type of Criminal Justice knowledge we had.  We filled it out and handed it back in.


Much to my dismay, at the very next class, the professor started reading off class statistics…So, we have a range of incomes from $-$$$, this many freshman (she gave a number), and so on.  When she got to age (uh oh) it went something like this…

We have five 18 year olds, two 20 year olds, and so on until she said, and one 40-something (cough cough) year old. Everyone started looking around the room to figure out who the 40- something year old student was. Well I didn’t want to give it away, so I looked around too, as if it wasn’t me (Ha ha, genius right?).  I thought it had worked, until after class.  A guy walks up next to me, gives me a nudge with his elbow, leans over and whispers…”It’s you isn’t it?”

The gig is up…


Well…heres what I think…you are never too old to do anything to better yourself!



One thought on “Non-Traditional Student Problems

  1. Congratulations on all your success and best of luck in all that you do. I am now a non-traditional student that fits in well because of having Father Time on my side. It has definitely been somewhat of a challenge to involve myself with student groups run by kids half my age, but it is tiring out to be very beneficial. Thanks for your post.


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