7 Benefits of Being a Nontraditional Student
Being a nontraditional student is not an easy role. If you’re in that situation, it’s usually because you have a family, work, and other obligations that have taken you off the well-traveled path of high school, college, career, marriage, and kids.
However, we attest that there are definite benefits to becoming a nontraditional student. In a moment, we’ll get into each of the seven. First, however, let’s look at where the stigma comes from.
Why People Resist It
People resist the nontraditional route for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are rational while others are self-defeating. Of course, there will be challenges, but you can do this. It starts with addressing the fears surrounding your decision to go nontraditional.
Fears They’ll Never Go Back
The fear of never going back is very real. You think that if you take a gap year or decide to delay college for a few years that it will be too difficult to restart. The truth of this depends on your personality, awareness, and the people that you have around you.
External Pressure From Family Members and Peers
Family members might have those same fears. Unfortunately, they might not be too worried about voicing their opinion to you over and over again. If you hear it enough, you start to believe it. At the same time, you put a lot of pressure on yourself by watching your friends travel these traditional pathways.
Stigmas Surrounding Becoming a Nontraditional Student
There are stigmas around nontraditional students. Not as many as there used to be, mind you, but they are still there. People tend to judge others for not going along with the crowd. When people see you sharing classes with people much younger than you, they start to talk.
Now that we’ve covered the mindsets that can keep you from being a nontraditional student, it’s time to shift gears. There are actually a lot of benefits to it, and each one of these benefits will help you overcome whatever issues are keeping you from the path.
1. Life Experience
Going the nontraditional student route opens you up to life experiences that others do not have. Of course, that presumes you’ve filled the void left by a school with living activities. You’ve secured a job. You’ve spent some time in the private sector. You’ve had to pay bills and balance a budget.
Many students aren’t taught about financial literacy unless they take a class on it. Currently, financial literacy courses are not mandatory. That’s despite the fact it’s one of the most important life skills you can have. As a nontraditional student, you get a crash course on this topic along with all the other life milestones.
2. Having Extra Time to Figure Out What You Want to Do
Taking a gap year is something common among people who go the nontraditional student route. They might decide to travel the country or start their own business. They could end up pursuing a non-work passion or getting married.
The time that you’re out of school is a great learning experience. You can use it to figure out what you want to do. This is helpful because it keeps you from changing majors a bunch, racking up student debt, and getting stuck in a career you really don’t like.
3. Getting Out to a Headstart With Your Career
Nontraditional students who get plugged into the right systems can already be well along in their careers. By the time they head to school, they know the proverbial lay of the land. In fact, their employer could even be footing the bill for the return to school with the guarantee of a raise or upper-level job in the cards upon graduation.
Going to school the traditional way does not afford you the same opportunities. You spend all your time learning theory and knowledge but not enough time applying it. The whole time you’re doing this, you’re racking up debt you’ll have to start paying on after graduation. And the job market isn’t necessarily going to invite you to it at that point with open arms.
4. More Advanced Study Skills
Nontraditional students have a knack for being able to study in a more focused manner. That’s because they’ve had to balance their jobs and home lives for so long. Adding studies to the mix is just something else they can figure out how to conquer.
Delaying the influx of responsibilities that life throws at you as traditional school paths do, can have the opposite effect. You can feel a little overwhelmed by the time you finally get to step out on your own.
5. Learning Job Hierarchies
Nontraditional students who join the workforce before school understand job hierarchies better. They know how far up the ladder they have to move. They know the responsibilities of the people on their level as well as many of the responsibilities of their direct supervisors.
All this knowledge can help with political maneuvering and posturing. These essential traits of a successful employee cannot be learned in a classroom.
6. Financial Assistance With Education Costs
We’ve already alluded to this, but it’s worth its own section. Student loan debt is out of control. Universities continue raising their prices on tuition and fees. Textbooks keep going up. Traditional students who aren’t able to get scholarships to pay for everything face a shortage of knowledge.
Nontraditional students, however, can get their school paid for by their employer. This not only keeps the individual from incurring lots of debt but also allows them to earn as they learn with the promise of something bigger at the end of their tenure.
7. Time Management Skills
Finally, there are time management skills. Nontraditional students are phenomenal outside-the-box thinkers. They’re also driven, focused, and resourceful. They had to be to survive this long doing what they’re doing!
When you go back to school as a nontraditional student, you’ll find that a lot of what you once found challenging about school is easier than you thought. That’s because you now recognize the value of time, and you treat it with the care that it deserves.
A Nontraditional Student Can Bring a Lot to the Table
We hope this look at what the nontraditional student goes through will help decrease some of the stigmas surrounding it. If you are planning on going back to college, then good on you! We wish you nothing but the best and invite you to share some of your experiences relevant to being a nontraditional student in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Wikimedia Commons]