Traditional versus nontraditional students

Traditional versus nontraditional students

In our society, we place a great significance on higher education. Our parents and teachers always encouraged us to try our best academically. If we came home from school with good marks, there was always a reward.

In my personal account, I didn’t always understand why my parents were administering that positive reinforcement. But with hindsight being 20/20, I completely comprehend what they were trying to accomplish. Some parents tolerate mischievousness at a much higher level, with others striving for an expectation of excellence. Even when there may be conflicting issues and obstacles present.

Education in America, in most cases, is the gateway to advancement. Most of us attend college right after completing high school, and those people are known as “traditional” students. Some encounter the blunders of life sooner than expected, so we tend to those duties or issues, and then return to college to ensure our upward mobility. That category of individuals is labeled “nontraditional.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nontraditional students are most often characterized by age – over 24 to be exact. Age is important when distinguishing a nontraditional student because it magnifies the demographic. Nontraditional students are adults who “often have family and work responsibilities,” and encounter other life circumstances that can interfere with the completion of their education.

This topic is something that I feel strongly about, because I personally haven’t had the typical college experience. When I graduated high school, I was playing basketball to pursue an athletic career in college. I bounced from junior college to junior college, with no regard for my academic future.

Eventually, I took a year off from school to gain some work experience in insurance. I allowed outside pressure to take precedence over my education, which, is what happens to the majority of nontraditional students.

I feel as if there is a negative connotation behind being a nontraditional student. I want to deprecate those connotations. In many instances, there are more benefits to attending college after obtaining sufficient real-life experiences.

According to a cover story from the American Psychological Organization, “older students may have a slight advantage when it comes to grasping course content simply because they have often had more opportunities to encounter different people.”

I wouldn’t be completely forthcoming if I didn’t admit that I aspired to attend college on the traditional trajectory. Being able to attend college and graduate within 4 years is highly favorable. You lower the amount of debt you owe, and you can jumpstart your career.

In the words of Confucius, “The will to win, the desire to succeed and the urge to reach your full potential are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”

In my opinion, there is never room to diminish achieving or learning. The pursuit of excellence is life long. Learning never stops, regardless of a person’s age or socioeconomic situation. In all of your endeavors, strive for excellence.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

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