For non-traditional students who are working adults or are returning to school years later, the transition to college can be intimidating. Several of my students
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Trends toward increased enrollment of non-traditional students are expected to continue (Stringer, 2015). Discussions about nontraditional college students often highlight some of the challenges our adult students face, such as balancing work, family, and school commitments, overcoming previous academic patterns that no longer serve them, and adapting to new approaches to learning (such as online classes.) The flip side, though, is that many non-traditional students bring a wealth of personal and professional experience to their pursuit of a new degree, which serves to the benefit their academic cohort (Stringer, 2015).
With the number of non-traditional students growing, many educators have discovered that adult learners are fundamentally different than their younger counterparts in many ways. Yet, most instructors have been left to their own devices to figure out how best to reach these students who come to class with an entirely different set of challenges, demands and expectations, and generally at a much different level of maturity.
On our campus, we have growing numbers of nontraditional students. The demands on their time out of class are numerous—work, family, and military obligations. It is my job to meet them where they can learn and benefit.
My recent foray into using MP3s to teach college level English classes came out of my need to reach more of my non-traditional students. I saw a trend developing where more adults than ever were seeking a college education or even returning to college to change careers, and it only followed that I had a responsibility as an instructor to try and reach these students. It also became apparent in my classroom that I wanted to not only reach, but to retain these non-traditional students who seemed to become easily frustrated with the more traditional lecture and textbook methods.
Students dropout of college for a variety of reasons – some are not ready for the academic rigors, while others leave to raise a family, get a job, or join the military. Many of these students are now in their 30s, 40s and 50s. They’re more mature, and they’re ready to come back and finish what they started. Is your school truly committed to do what it takes to attract and support these students through degree completion?