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					Deborah Cull                                                                       6/6/2012
Final Assignment: Enterprise Reporting
Localized Reporting

SVSU draws non-traditional students

Walk through the corridors at SVSU any time of day and approximately one in four faces
you see are not in their early twenties or first-time College students. These faces are
older, wiser, and often much more serious. Yes, some are professors, but many are the
non-traditional students – those who have returned to school later in life to enrich their
lives somehow.

According to data provided by the SVSU registrar’s office, non-traditional students make
up approximately 25 percent of the student population – a statistic that has held true since

Non-traditional students are usually well past their twenties. They are those who have
returned to school or are attending for the first time. They are often in the midst of a
career. Some are even retirees who are there just to learn something new.

Non-traditional students are often juggling a full-time job, a family, a household and
managing a household budget. Why add education to the mix? The reasons are as vast
and diverse as those who are doing it.

       Non-traditional students are beginning new careers:
       When Cathy Willbur graduated from college with a degree in fashion
       merchandising, she immediately started something different – her family. After
       being a stay-at-home Mom for more than 25 years, Willbur realized she ached for
       something else. SVSU’s elementary education program provided her answer.

       Willbur completed that program two years ago. Since then she has enjoyed
       working with other people’s children to help them achieve. Willbur worked for a
       time in the Midland County school district as a substitute teacher and then as an
       aide to students who needed additional one-on-one help to succeed in school.
       Cathy is now employed by Sylvan Learning Center.

       “It was a long haul, but I’m so glad I went back to school,” said Willbur. “My
       education provides the credentials I need in order to do work I love.”

       Non-traditional students are changing careers:
       Deborah Cooper, 47, is a part-time Communications major at SVSU. She has a
       full-time job that compensates her well, but she yearns for a more rewarding
       career. Since her High School graduation she has worked as an administrative
       assistant in a variety of capacities. “I have always felt I had so much more to
       offer,” says Cooper. “With the additional education, I’ll have the credentials that
       will help me do just that.”

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Deborah Cull                                                                        6/6/2012
Final Assignment: Enterprise Reporting
Localized Reporting

       Cooper says that without returning to school, she would have dead-ended in her
       career opportunities. The new degree will open a variety of new doors to her that
       would have remained closed regardless of skill and experience. “It’s difficult to
       earn the chance to prove your ability without the piece of paper that shows you’ve
       already done so,” said Cooper.

       Non-traditional students are seeking career enrichment:
       Connie Suarez, 38, and a mother of a six-year-old boy, is employed full-time at a
       large corporation. She is enrolled in SVSU’s marketing certificate program, and
       will begin classes in the winter semester.

       Suarez enjoys her job and is fairly compensated, but continues to run into walls
       when the marketing credentials are called for. She will eliminate those walls with
       the new certification.

       “The results of completing this certificate program will be well worth the
       sacrifices,” said Suarez. “It will open many doors that were once non-existent for

       Non-traditional students want to learn something new:
       There are also those who attend classes just to broaden their minds. An
       increasing number of these students are retirees – those whose only interest is
       learning. The Wall Street Journal recently devoted an article to this trend, and a
       November 8 article in the Baltimore Sun article focused on how universities are
       actually courting this type of student.

       Nancy Ott is a retiree who often attends classes at Delta and SVSU just to audit
       them. Ott winters in Arizona and says she welcomes opportunities for new

A Different Experience:
The non-traditional student experience is very different than that of the traditional
student. These students arrive with schedules, agendas and already full lives.

Northwood University professor and career advisor, Cathy Bush comments on the
difference between traditional and non-traditional students. “Traditional students are
paving the way to their futures,” said Bush. Non-traditional students are often excavating
new roads, alleyways, and/or building bridges.”

E. Faith Ivery, author of How to Earn a College Degree: When You Think You Are Too
Old, Too Busy, Too Broke and Too Scared says in her book that it is better that older
students are certain about career goals before they start to take any college courses. “You
don’t want to be changing your major 10 times as a adult. When you’re 35, when you’re
42, you haven’t got time to play around,” she writes.

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Deborah Cull                                                                      6/6/2012
Final Assignment: Enterprise Reporting
Localized Reporting

That is one of the differences non-traditional students bring to SVSU – focus. Non-
traditional students are normally very firm in their reasons for returning to school. Ask a
non-traditional student why they’re in school and their answers are very specific.

Something else non-traditional students bring is an appreciation for the opportunity to
learn. Whether they are attending for career change, career enhancement, or just for the
sheer joy of learning, they all appreciate the opportunities the new knowledge provides
them. They have, after all, often waited a long time to get here.

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