When the media discusses college students, it doesn’t make a fair portrayal of the group, because there is one sector of people that is not represented. That forgotten group is the non-traditional students.
Non-traditional students tend to be older than 25 years old and commonly have children. The few sitcoms and movies that have adult learners do not fairly portray non-traditional students. Instead, we are being left out of the representation.
As an adult learner, we have grown up in our way of thinking because we have experienced what the world has to offer us. We have worked various jobs and have had many different life experiences. We are the forgotten ones because we usually see college students who are 18 to 22 years old. Non-traditional students sometimes have to work twice as hard as the average college student because they are trying to keep up while taking care of a family. Keeping up is also difficult because they have been out of the classroom for a number of years, and they need the reminders on how to write a term paper and are getting familiar with the professor’s expectations.
In the article “College Students Using Loans for Spring Break, Alcohol, Drugs” in the March 2017 issue of Forbes, Kate Ashford states that 23.8 percent of college students spend their money on alcohol with student loans. The reality is that as a non-traditional student, I use the student loan for my living expenses. Student loans are meant to be used to support the necessities of life for students after paying for school necessities.
I think the situation can improve by changing the way that the media represents non-traditional college students. Other adult learners should feel free to share their struggles. I know that as a non-traditional student, I can feel out of place because I continue to battle my anxiety.
As time passed, I have learned it is OK to talk to my professors about these struggles. What the media needs to do is represent us better and not put non-traditional students in the same category as a traditional college attendee.
A suggestion for universities is to adopt a system where early education students could get credit for offering childcare services on campus.
Also, SVSU could try to find a way to expand the tutoring center hours for those whose work hours that do not correspond well with tutoring center hours. Also, we could have a traditional and non-traditional student pair up so that way, they could see what it is like to be in the other person’s shoes.
So, the other way to continue to improve the situation for non-traditional students is by starting with an understanding that there are adult learners out there. The media should portray adult learners accurately, perhaps through interviews where they are asked about the struggles they deal with to balance having a full-time job, family and other areas of their life.
The reality is being a non-traditional student is not easy for some of us. We face many struggles that we may be too embarrassed to talk about.