The list could go on. During the
2010-11
academic year, according
to the IU Southeast Reference
Book, non-traditional students
(
students over the age of 25) made
up 32.6 percent of the student
body at IU Southeast. But age is
the only criterion considered by
the publication, so the percentage
is probably much greater. Non-
traditional students account for a
large portion of the population at
IU Southeast, and they enrich the
diversity of the campus.
Adjunct Instructor of English
Steve Bowman began at IU
Southeast as a traditional student
citing pressure from family
and society as his reason for
enrolling, but graduated as a non-
traditional student after taking
time off to evaluate why he was
attending college. He believes
current students find themselves
in a different environment from
when he occupied the halls of IU
Southeast as a student. “When
I came through, non-traditional
people definitely were the ones
who tended to be married, tended
to be working full-time, and
tended to have commitments
outside the University,” says
Bowman. However, over the
years he has noticed a change
in the student population. He
believes the economy played a
role in this change. “I find it’s not
just non-traditional students, it’s
also traditional students who are
working pretty much full time,
going to school full time, and
even younger students sometimes
have kids at this point.” He adds,
I think there was a shift in the
way employers were conducting
themselves. I discovered many
older students were attending
college not to get a job, but to
keep the one they had.” Bowman
can see the distinction between
traditional and non-traditional
students when it comes to age,
but believes the definitions may
need reconsideration because of
changing times and the always
changing face of the student body.
Fluctuating student types can pose
challenges for instructors. There
can be no special circumstances
built into their syllabi that grant
allowances to students, no matter
what category they occupy.
Bowman says the first schedule
he has to consider is his own
because of the time constraints
involved with teaching a subject
within a set time frame. “I can’t
think of the semester in terms
of traditional or non-traditional
[
students], he said. I have to
think about it like this: here is the
current paradigm, here is what the
department says has to happen in
16
weeks.” While Bowman cannot
factor in elements that affect non-
traditional students outside the
classroom, he enjoys what they
bring into the classroom. “I love
non-traditional students,” he said.
For the most part they have more
life experience to draw from, they
have patience to endure lectures,
they are open to suggestions and
making revisions, and they are
willing to talk in class, which
makes for better discussion.”
Better discussions provide an
environment for better learning.
A traditional
student might
be melting
down because
of the college
experience; a
non-traditional
student because
of family issues,
work issues, and
school issues all
at once.”
Faculty members aren’t the only
people on campus dealing with
the complexities that make each
student unique. Advisors like Greg
Roberts from the School of Arts
and Letters are also exposed to
the ever-changing makeup of the
student body. Like Bowman, the
only thing Roberts tries to focus
on is the student. He also believes
the labels of traditional and non-
traditional students are “grayed”
because few people fall into either
category perfectly. “I don’t care
how old you are or how young
you are.
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