Arts & Culture / Mosaic / September 23, 2010

Non-traditional students not alone

Non-Traditional Students Club has existed at Knox since 1999 to provide a meeting place for students with a different prospective on the undergraduate life. Non-traditional students range from parents working full-time jobs to transfer students to staff members taking a class a term. The purpose is to help make the transition into college life smoother.

Irene Ponce, Reader Services Tech Librarian at Seymour said, “We try to bring people together….share ideas, concerns and information.” Missy Kratz, coordinator for the Center for Career and Pre-professional Development explained that staff can take one class per term free of charge. Ponce graduated from Knox in nine years while Kratz took eight years, both having transferred credits to Knox.

This year 34 of the 38 new non-traditional students are transfer students. Several transfer students discussed their dilemma with becoming involved on campus. junior Clarissa Cole said that she wanted to join the Dance Squad, but she said, “They want to practice nine to 11 and if you can’t make this then you can’t be on the team, which is unfortunate. They can’t change the rule for one person.”

“I have a job as well and driving back and forth…it’s hard to balance friends, family and school,” said junior Molly Ruppert

Naomi Caro Tsuji took nine years off before finishing her senior year at Knox in 2010. She felt Knox had an encouraging atmosphere before and after the nine-year break. She said that part of her success is thanks to former Dean Bailey, who worked with Financial Aid to make returning to Knox as easy as possible. She felt as if she had never left and that Knox still had the “community and family feeling” she had remembered. Caro Tsuji was worried about being older than the other students in her class, she said, however, “a lot of kids are really cool.” They gushed over her children, which made Caro Tsuji feel more comfortable.

Although there are hardly any classes that non-traditional students have with other non-traditional students, Ponce and Caro Tsuji feel both peers and professors value their prospective. Ponce said there are many times she is older than the professors, but they love to have her views and experiences added to the class. Caro Tsuji worked in pharmaceuticals before returning to Knox and found biochemistry students loved having her as a resource for the world they might join.

Non-Traditional Students Club members function as support for each other. Ponce said, “You always feel you’re the only one, so it always feels nice to know [that you’re not].” Caro Tsuji elaborated by saying, “It helped knowing that there [are] other people out there. When you walk in with two kids, you have people looking at you like ‘What are you doing here?’ It just helped to have someone else there.”

The Club meets once a month in order to keep connected. With a school filled with the traditional students, the non-traditional students must find their niche. It is with this goal the club moves forward.

Jessica Sharp

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