Nontraditional Student Week starts Monday

Brooke Schwartz, News Editor

A week to acknowledge and commemorate nontraditional students, nationally known as Nontraditional Student Week, kicks off Nov. 5 and continues through Nov. 9.

Kim Redfern, an academic adviser in the School of Extended Learning, said this week is to draw attention to Eastern’s many nontraditional students who can sometimes be overlooked.

“I feel sometimes, when you’re on a traditional campus, you don’t necessarily think about the nontraditional students who are your veterans, your adults, those students who come to class but you don’t know why they’re sitting in your class,” Redfern said. 

“Then you don’t experience all the (students) who are not on campus but are taking online courses or courses at one of our off-campus locations, so we really want to shine a spotlight on (nontraditional students), even if it’s just for a few short days.”

Doug Bower, the dean of the School of Extended Learning, said this week is also to highlight, recognize and celebrate the many different types of nontraditional students that exist on college campuses around the world.

“It used to be that to be a nontraditional student you had to be 25 years old, everybody else was considered traditional students. That’s not the way things are anymore,” Bower said. 

“We have …19 year olds who have gone directly from high school to work and are trying to get their degrees; those are nontraditional students. We have individuals that have children, men and women who have family responsibility who can’t take courses during the traditional 8 to 4, Monday through Friday (schedule), those are nontraditional students. Then we have the 85 year old grandparents, or great-grandparents, who want to get their degree with their grandchild, and we’ve seen them walk across the stage.”

To celebrate the week, an open house will be held at Eastern on Nov. 7 from 3-5 p.m. in room 2116 in Blair Hall, at Eastern’s Parkland College office on Nov. 6 and at Eastern’s Triton College office on Nov. 8. 

Staff from the School of Extended Education will also be handing out snacks from 5-7 p.m. in Buzzard Hall for students who take later classes.. 

The goal of the open houses is, Redfern said, to know more about the struggles and triumphs of being a nontraditional student. 

“I hope (attendees) gain a new respect and understanding for (Eastern’s) nontraditional students and recognize that, while their lives may be different and their responsibilities may be different, they too are college students and want to experience a college education,” Redfern said.

Eastern has not had events in celebration of nontraditional student week as consistently in the past, due in part to the budget crisis that hit Eastern a couple years ago.

Bower said the transition of colleges helped this week gain traction at Eastern this year, as the School of Extended Education is now in the College of Education and communication between the two is now easier. 

Redfern said nontraditional student week should be celebrated by everyone on campus.

“This week means that our nontraditional students who have different obligations in their lives than a traditional student -so they don’t live on campus, they don’t come to campus to take classes, they work full-time, they have families …  they take care of- this week brings to light the fact that (nontraditional students) are as important to our community as our traditional students (are),” Redfern said. “We need to welcome (nontraditional students) and make them feel just as at home as our traditional students are.”

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].