Two years ago, after a long absence from Emporia State, I returned to campus. Nervous and scared, I questioned myself, “Why am I here? How will I be treated?”
On my way across campus five young students greeted me with a “hello,” and a nice young lady held the door for me as I entered Plumb Hall. In the classroom I noticed many students looking at me as I walked in. After the customary short introductions, I began to relax. The professor went over the course syllabus and asked if anyone had any questions. I had many questions.
After class several of the other students began to talk to me. Within a week I began to believe I belonged here. I was accepted by the students and the professors. The dream I had for many years of getting my degree came into view. I learned from other students about grants, loans and how and where to apply for them.
One day after class, another student mentioned that they were a “non-traditional” student, too. I hated to ask, but I did. “What is a non-traditional student?” He only replied, “You.”
The best definition of what a non-traditional student is that I have heard is someone who is at least three years removed from high school before beginning college.
I have met many non-traditional students in the two years I have been at ESU. Non-traditional students are the ones with full time jobs and families, but they always have their homework done. They are the single mothers and guys who had to work and save money for college. They have lost their jobs due to cut backs or due to their jobs being sent out of the country. They ask questions, never disrupt class and are most willing to help their fellow students.
You won’t find many non-traditional students in sports, but you will find them in the library, the math and science labs and the writing center.
Non-traditionals understand the slogan “Changing lives since 1863.” They have been out in the workforce and know that it’s education that empowers a person to succeed.
So the next time a non-traditional student enters one of your classes, be kind to them because they are just as nervous as you were on your first day of college.