Nontraditional students' pride
As a University of Phoenix faculty member, I meet students from all walks of life who share a common goal: returning to school.
But there are three other important commonalities I’ve noticed among them: the anticipation that furthering one’s education will help fulfill a personal or professional goal, the excitement that comes with learning to use new technologies, and the thrill of accomplishment that follows completing their degree.
Many working learners recognize priorities and usually are better at managing their time than their younger “traditional” counterparts are. Some are lifelong learners who enjoy educational challenges (Donorfio and Chapman, 2009). They may be retired and have no need for a degree but enjoy diversifying their knowledge. Many working learners are middle-aged and want a career change. If they work for a business that has no advancement opportunities they decide to earn a degree to move to a different section of the company or to switch employers altogether.
Learning with the Latest Technologies
The excitement of learning new forms of technology is a draw for many working students. They embrace the paperless classroom environment that nontraditional schools employ (Joly, 2009). Some students appreciate the textbooks being online and can read the course materials faster. Students who prefer to hold a copy of a document in their hands have the option to print only the assignment sections they need when they need it—rather than purchasing an entire book (Joly, 2009). Some of my students joke they can no longer use the excuse that the dog ate their homework now that assignments are submitted via the student website.
Students realize that going back to school will compete for the time and attention that’s already being given to other areas of their life—such as family responsibilities, work commitments and social obligations. To overcome these, working learners need to have a passion to earn their degree, as well as good time-management skills.
I find that students view their college experience as an educational journey with outcomes that outweigh the personal or professional challenges they endure along the way. Most students recognize their academic careers may not be easy, but the thrill of accomplishment will be the reward at the end.
Donorfio, L.K.M. and Chapman, B.G. (2009, Fall). Engaging the older learner on growing old—positively! The LLI Review, 9-21. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
Joly, K. (2009). More with Less. University Business, 12(2), 37-38. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.