Non-traditional students overcome many barriers

The average college student looks like someone between 18 – 25 years old, or someone directly out of high school. He or she might be living either in a dorm room or at home with mom and dad, dependent on parents financially. The picture most depicted of college students is of them sitting in class all day and partying all night.

The college experience sounds like an extension of high school except with more freedom. This description is not completely accurate. According to The National Center for Education, statistics show that in 2013, 40 percent of students enrolled in “degree-granting, postsecondary institutions,” were 25 years old or older.

These students are often referred to as non-traditional students. The definition of a non-traditional student is actually much broader. In addition to students who are not directly out of high school, this title includes students who attend college part-time, who work full-time and have children. Non-traditional students are a vital part of most colleges, including Georgia Highlands.

Calen Cooper is one such student. As a Journeyman Lineman in north Georgia, his schedule is subject to change because storms tend to cause power outages that require extended work hours. Add to that the fact he has been out of high school for eight years. “Time is my major challenge,” he says. Cooper takes fully online classes currently to offset his work schedule.

With such a large portion of the student body being compiled of non-traditional students, how does GHC support these students balancing work, school and families?

To combat time restraints of these students, GHC has offered night courses as well as numerous hybrid and online courses. This allows students to attend class at the most convenient times for their schedule.

The NOW (Nights, Online, Weekends) program, an accelerated program designed for non-traditional students, is also offered. The number of classes offered online as well as programs such as NOW reveal GHC’s point of view toward the non-traditional students.

Cooper holds a shake that he encountered on the job. Photos by Latonya Kilgore

Cooper holds a shake that he encountered on the job.
Photos by Latonya Kilgore

Calen cooper uses a boom lift to fix power lines.  Photo by LaTonya

Calen Cooper uses a boom lift to fix power lines.
Photo by LaTonya Kilgore