In today's world we throw around the word nontraditional a lot, often when we are trying to be politically correct. We have nontraditional families, nontraditional jobs, and nontraditional animals. I live with my partner of nearly two decades and our young son, and am an online professor; certainly I know nontraditional. I have sphinx cats; if you know what they are, then you know they are nontraditional. And, I was nearly 40 when my son was born; they call that "advanced maternal age," and while it is becoming more common, it is still considered nontraditional. So, I do not shy away from the term, and you shouldn't either - let's talk about what you probably thinks makes you a nontraditional student - your age, right?
What is a Nontraditional Student?
A Nontraditional student could have a variety of definitions, I suppose. We could talk about culture, heritage, religion, gender identify, and all types of things - certainly just 100 years ago being a nontraditional student could have meant being female or black. Today, though, it almost always refers age and life situation. In today's vernacular, a nontraditional student is generally considered a working adult who has a job and family responsibilities. That's it. So, what makes you traditional in every other aspect of human existence makes you a nontraditional student.
Education Moves Forward
Back in the time of Leave it to Beaver and the perfect nuclear family, it was unusual to think of the mother going back to school to get a job. It was more common for there to be a single bread winner in the family - the father - and for him to work at the same company for most of his adult life. Wow, have times changed. Today, in most families both partners work. Also, it is not uncommon to change the company you work for every few years.
My brother is 32 and he has had no less than 12 jobs in his life - he's not a loser, he is a well educated engineer! Furthermore, many people go back to school and change fields, sometimes more than once. My aunt, for example, was a housewife until she got divorced in the late 1980s. Then, she had to go back to school to be a teacher. She taught for a few years and didn't care for it, so when she was in her 40s she went back to school to become a nurse. She loves this job and has been doing it for 20 years. Changing careers like this definitely made my aunt a nontraditional student - twice! Today, though, this change of fields is becoming more and more common. To be honest, it doesn't even seem so nontraditional anymore.
Has My Time Come and Gone
So, you are wondering if this can be for you, if you want to be a nontraditional student. Well, you know what - if you are thinking about it, then you must have some good reasons. Do not let the fear of being "nontraditional" stop you. The years you could spend in school are going to come and go, whether you are in school or not. So, you can get into school now and earn a degree, or you can just keep doing what you are doing and not earn one. But know that if you go back to school, whether you are 30 with kids or 80 and retired, you will not be the only person like you. I have taught people as mature as 70 in my online courses! And they were the most excited to be there of any student I have ever had. So when it comes to choosing online degrees vs traditional degrees, remember that for you, the nontraditional student, and online degree may work best; be a nontraditional student and go for your dreams!
Why do you think that? Share your situation in our online forum.