If you’re admitted to IU Southeast, to me you are a college
student,” he said. Roberts believes students categorize
themselves by their actions. If a non-traditional student is active
and takes advantage of everything the campus has to offer, he
thinks they are traditional no matter how old they are or what
their circumstances may be.
Although Roberts tries to see all students as equals, he notices
some differences. One difference he notices in non-traditional
students is their preparedness. “The organizational skills and
the involvement in knowing the requirements for their degree
are totally different from someone coming straight out of high
school,” he states, but adds this quality is something younger
students learn as they progress. Another difference: the causes
of the inevitable meltdowns all students have. Roberts explains,
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.” Because
of the added challenges some non-traditional students face,
Roberts believes these students bring diversity to the classroom
and campus by sharing their experiences, as well as setting an
example for the entire student body.
With the current pressure from legislators to graduate students
in four years, one wonders if in the future many more students
will be considered non-traditional because they were unable
to complete the difficult task of graduating “on time,” or if a
new label looms on the horizon. Kimberly Pelle, Director of
the Adult Student Center, said that at one time there was an
unsuccessful attempt to change the label “non-traditional” to
new-traditional.” “Non-traditional students wanted no part
of this new term,” she said. “They are proud of being non-
traditional and wear it like a badge of honor.”
Students at IU Southeast cover a wide spectrum, and non-
traditional students are a part of that spectrum. While members
of the faculty and staff try to see just “a student,” there is no
denying that the non-traditional student presence on campus
adds to the diverse environment that makes IU Southeast a
welcome place for all.
Bowman works with a student.
Roberts attends a meeting on campus.