Education for Non-traditional Students

Education for Non-traditional Students

With the variety of course formats available, the options for obtaining a college education are almost limitless. Here's more...
EduZenith Staff
Does the thought of college dorm life not appeal to you? Would you rather attend class at night while pursuing a career during the day, or take courses online from the comfort of your own home? Perhaps, you are pursuing a new career as an adult and don't have the ability to attend class during the day. You may have more options than you realize.
I chose the path of a 'non-traditional' student. Understanding that it could take years to work my way up the corporate ladder, I decided to jump-start my career with professional experience, while simultaneously pursuing my degree. I did this by working full-time during the day and attending college in the evenings. It was a difficult balance, but I felt better prepared to pursue my career when I graduated, than I feel I would have had I spent four years going to college during the day and working part-time at night. This is just one example of how attending school as a non-traditional student can help you pursue a career while making the most of your college education.
Maybe this isn't the path for you, but I think that it is important for anyone seeking a college education to understand all the options available before deciding how to go about obtaining a college degree. During the course of my studies, I learned of a few different options available that I feel are worth sharing. These are by no means the only options available, and not all colleges offer these options, but it can only benefit you to know what choices may be out there waiting for you to explore and use to your advantage while pursuing your college education.
Accelerated Courses
Courses in an accelerated format, whether held during the day, in the evening, on weekends, or online, can provide a student with the option to complete their degree quicker than if they decided to attend a course in a standard 16-week semester. The premise behind an accelerated course is that you learn the same amount of material in a shorter period of time (in 8 weeks, for example). Because you are learning so much information in such a short period of time, accelerated courses are usually very rigorous and time-consuming. This format can be beneficial, however, if you are anxious to complete your education quickly.
Night and Weekend Courses
For those of you that need to work full-time during the day, but still want to pursue a college degree, many schools offer night and weekend courses. You can find these courses in a variety of schedule formats, such as attending one long class per week, multiple shorter classes per week, or one half or full day class on the weekends. This option can be great for students who want an interactive classroom experience that does not cut into their work schedule. It can also be a good option for someone who is already working in the field of their choice, and wants to brush up on their skills.
Online Courses
If you are interested in a college degree but don't have the time to drive back and forth to campus, attending class in an online format might be a good alternative for you. Another benefit to taking courses online is that you are not limited by the school's location. Therefore, you have the option to attend a college that is located just about anywhere, as long as it offers online courses.
Online courses are typically taught through a website that holds course information. Depending on how the site is designed, you may have the ability to interact with your professor, upload assignments, and perform other tasks relating to the course through the website. It is important to understand that, just because the course is held online, this does not mean that you have to put forth less effort. Quite the contrary―many times, online courses require a little more time because there is so much material for you to read (opposed to listening to an instructor's lecture). Also, online learning is extremely self-driven, so these courses are probably best suited to those who have the discipline to work with little direction.
In-Class and Online Combination Courses
Some colleges offer a unique combination of online and in-class courses. In this format, you may be required to attend class on campus for half of the course, while simultaneously completing assignments online. For example, rather than attending class on campus on Mondays and Wednesdays, you may have your Monday class on campus and your Wednesday class online. This format can be great for the student that likes or needs the interaction and instruction of a classroom experience, but also needs the flexibility to attend class from their home computer. This may also be a good format for students that have schedule restrictions, or are not able to drive to campus more than one day per week.
There are many different options available to obtain a college education. No longer limited by the day student/dorm life model of the typical college student, just about anybody looking to continue their education can find a college with a format that fits their schedule and lifestyle. From accelerated courses to night and weekend, online, and combination courses, the options are almost limitless. So before you invest your time and money in your education, take a little time to research different colleges and understand your options. The options available to you can make a world of difference in your college experience.