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Why Non-Traditional Students Rock: Six Strengths They Bring to the Job Market

Jun 29, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 1 Comments

Non-traditional students make up a large percentage of all college students nationwide. You may be a non-traditional student if you’re a single parent, have delayed going to college by more than a year, have dependents, work full-time while in school, attend school part-time, or are financially independent for financial aid purposes. Non-traditional students may be single parents, high school drop-outs, members of the military, full-time employees, and more.

Non-traditional students frequently don’t have it easy—and many attend distance education universities under circumstances much more challenging than the more traditional college student is likely to face. The job market often doesn’t reward people who take life paths that are different or unconventional, but nontraditional students have a lot to offer—and many have demonstrated considerable strength simply in returning to school and graduating under nontraditional circumstances. Here are just a few reasons why non-traditional students are “keepers” at any company.

They’re mature

Woman and Computer

Non-traditional students often face a difficult road in going back to school—and that ability to succeed against adversity in the classroom is likely to serve them well on the job, too.

Many non-traditional students come back to school later in life—after age 24 or so—making them more mature and developmentally advanced than recent grads of a more traditional age. And those non-traditional students who are of the typical age often have had more challenging lives than their traditional peers—and have had to make difficult choices. These students are often quite mature for their age.

They know how to juggle a demanding life

Many non-traditional students either work full-time or are full-time parents in addition to going to school—sometimes both. These people know how to juggle the demands of work, family, and anything else life throws at them. Employers who hire former nontraditional students can be sure they’re hiring someone who knows how to handle stress, manage difficult work environments, and get things done under challenging deadlines. If you are concerned about juggling school and a demanding life, check out online college reviews to find out what previous students have written about a school's ability to work with a student's schedule.

They have good time management skills

Non-traditional students frequently have extensive and conflicting demands on their time. Going to school is hard enough without dependents or a full-time job to deal with as well. Non-traditional student graduates are people who have managed to get their work done well enough to graduate college—and frequently have to develop extremely refined time management skills. Employers who hire them can have confidence that non-traditional students can manage many different projects at once. 

They’re determined

Non-traditional students are frequently not strangers to adversity. They wear many faces—those of members of the military, single parents, determined career-minded individuals, entrepreneurs, and more. Employers hiring non-traditional students are  often more likely to get strong, determined people who are used to overcoming challenges.

They know what they want

Traditional college students often use college as a time to explore. But you don’t decide to go back to school and back to debt lightly later on in life. Nontraditional students often go back to school for very specific reasons that have nothing to do with partying and “finding themselves.” If a recent nontraditional graduate is applying to a job with your company, chances are they’re sure about the field they’re in—and are more likely to stick around in a job in their field.

Non-traditional students often face a difficult road in going back to school—and that ability to succeed against adversity in the classroom is likely to serve them well on the job, too. There are many reasons employees should seek out nontraditional students—for their determination, their focus, their ability to manage their time, and their maturity. In today’s challenging job market, nontraditional students who can effectively sell their unusual education history to employers may have an edge. There’s no question that non-traditional students can be a valuable asset to any company.




Nicole Over a year ago

Probably these Non-Traditional Students are well rounded and well define people. So thumbs up for them.

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