North Dakota Colleges See Rise in Non-Traditional Students - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

North Dakota Colleges See Rise in Non-Traditional Students

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North Dakota colleges say more people are stepping out of the workforce to go back to school. They're what you call non-traditional students, and whether they finished high school five or fifteen years ago, many are also juggling a career and perhaps even a family.

Bismarck State College admissions says students are no longer only high school graduates. It's becoming more common for college students to be of any age.

After high school, students have two options: begin life in the work force without a college diploma, or get the diploma first. Those who did the latter are among those now coming back to college.

Some non-traditional students already have degrees and are seeking more training for their career. Others are looking to change careers, and some are just looking to hold onto the jobs they already have, now requiring a diploma.  

Then there are a few, like Gail, who just like to learn.

"I'm in education. I love to learn. So, once I finish this credential that I'm moving toward, I can see myself going, 'Ok, what's next?'"

For some adults, it may not be easy to go back. Finances can be a big hurdle.

"There's more and more scholarships being made available to non-traditional students. You know, first-year freshman have a lot of opportunities, because that's what that's typically set up for. But now, people are noticing that adults want to come back. So now, there's more opportunities for them," says Alternate Learning Coordinator Marla Hagemeister.

Gail works in the Department of Public Instruction and is among students who can go back to school, because her job is willing to help pay. Some companies will pay partial or even full tuition for employees.

Another hurdle is life. It won't stop just because school started.

"It can be kinda hard, like, if you have a full-time job and if you have so family responsibilities that are a little overwhelming. I know there was one year that I was struggling with some illnesses at the time. I think that there have actually been some semesters where I decided not to take anything because of things that were going on in my personal life. But again, I think the universities are very understanding," says Gail.

"Adult students, they know what is means. They know what their dollar means. They know what value for their dollar means. They know what time management is. So when you have a student, they understand all that, and it just means so much more," Director of Admissions & Enrollment Karen Erickson.

BSC Admissions says they're willing to work with non-traditional students to find a schedule that will help them succeed.

BSC says nontraditional students have a variety of classes to choose from, online or on-campus, and the start date does not have to be at the very beginning of spring or fall semester.

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