Many traditional students recognize who the nontraditional students in the Adult Degree Program are.
However, they may not realize what the benefits of having these nontraditional students in a classroom are.
Nontraditional students can bring diversity and experience into a classroom setting that other students might not have. They may also have children or different situations at home that provide them with a different perspective on life, education and career endeavors.
Because of these reasons they have the ability to bring new perspectives and opinions to discussion in classes.
Additionally, having these nontraditional students in class create great networking and learning opportunities. Some nontraditional students have had a wide array of professions before coming to Linfield.
Unlike the average student, many nontraditional students are full-time students, workers and parents.
They can offer advice and insights into the world outside of Linfield while still being involved in the educational system.
“One of the benefits of having a nontraditional student in a traditional classroom setting is that it gives the traditional students insight to experiences that the nontraditional student may bring to classroom discussions. The dynamics of age, experience, and expectations from the nontraditional student should to be woven within the class by the professor leading and facilitating classroom activities. This will possibly give both the traditional and nontraditional students the ability to understand and learn from each other,” said Jim Garaventa, Division of Continuing Education academic advisor, in an email.
Despite these added benefits, we believe that traditional students do not necessarily understand how to interact with nontraditional students since they live different lifestyles and often times live off campus.
“The disadvantage that may occur is that the nontraditional student may find himself or herself feeling isolated from the rest of the class due to age, experiences and a sense of not being part of the on-site Linfield community. I think professors and students can overcome this by making them feel welcome,” Garaventa said.
The best way to get the most out of Linfield diversity on campus and in the classroom is to be open to new and nontraditional students. Traditional students should be encouraged to make nontraditional students feel welcome and a part of the Linfield community.
The benefits of their attendance and participation in class help create a holistic learning environment, which is exactly what all of us are hoping to get from a liberal arts college.
So embrace the dynamics of a classroom full of traditional and nontraditional students, you will ultimately gain the most from your classroom experiences.
-The Review Editorial Board