Nontraditional Students? How Do You Cope? College Life / Uncategorized

Hello everyone:

I run into nontraditional students (AKA older than most of the other folks) all the time these days. When I was an undergraduate (2001-2006), I was a rarity. But as the divorce rate leaves 813,000 people per year alone and 800,000 people per year are widowed, more people (mostly women, from my observation) are trying to further their careers by going back to school.

Some are seeking undergraduate degrees but most of the folks I see are after graduate education. So, that begs the question: How do you cope with being the oldest person in the room, except for the professor? (Please note that, when I was in college, I was older than most of my professors, but I digress.)

I found it very lonely, since I was the only person I knew who was back at school at UMCP who was my age…. The students basically wanted my notes and my help with projects, but we never hung out together. My college did not acknowledge the presence of older students.

Thankfully, that has changed. These days, there are more folks who are returning to complete their educations (or to get them in the first place) and there is more fellowship available for them.

So how do you manage running your household, caring for kids, earning a living, and going to school? Very carefully. You need to get a month-at-a-glance calendar and mark off every assignment, every day you are working, and all of your children and family activities.

You will have to be very disciplined, but I know you can do it. I ran a decorating business, home schooled, was active in my church, and went to school full time. As I got into higher and higher education, some of those activities went by the wayside (my homeschooler graduated, the company I represented closed up shop, and I learned that I didn’t have to be at church every time the doors opened).

I congratulate you on your decision to make a better life for yourself and your family. I also know that, if I did it, you can too.


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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