When I was a young girl and ready to graduate high school, my parents had just declared bankruptcy because my father had lost his job at the steel mill. Because of this, they couldn’t afford to send me to college. I spent my late teens and twenties working a variety of jobs that were available for me to get with a high school diploma, but I always dreamed of going to college. When I turned thirty, I decided that it was time. I wasn’t sure where to start, so I looked online to see what my options were. After looking at schools online and locally, I decided to start at a community college as a non-traditional student.
Non-traditional students, or those who are returning to college at a later age, are becoming more common in colleges across the country as people come to understand more and more the value of a good education. Just like me, they realized that you can only get so far in your career with a high school diploma or a GED, and that returning to school to get an Associate’s Degree or a B.A. is the best way to give their careers a real kick start. While a lot of young people might think it’s strange to see older people like this in their classes, non-traditional students have many advantages over kids who are coming into college right out of high school. Firstly, they don’t have the distractions that might derail a young person’s focus from their schoolwork, such as parties and the kind of personal drama that seems to be so much a part of a teenager’s life. Non-traditional students understand the value of the education they’re receiving and are much more likely to want to succeed than the average young student, who still might not be mature enough to understand that. Going back to school as a non-traditional student was the best decision I ever made, and I am now working in my dream job and making a great salary.