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Traditional vs. non-traditional

Students adjust to college regardless of background

By Daniel Fields
On September 18, 2015

As new students adjust to college life, the hurdles they face depend on many factors, one of which may include whether they are traditionally aged students or returning to school as adults.

K.C. Flynn, Liberal Arts, is a returning adult student who said he enrolled at Kirkwood Community College after serving in the Marine Corps. According to Flynn, one of the adjustments he had to make is to the informal atmosphere of college. He added that being able to wear sandals to school is an example of this transition. 

Hannah Kapler, Nursing, said she began her college career straight out of high school. Kapler said she had to acquire study habits as a prerequisite to a successful college career. She added that she did not believe her experiences in high school helped her much with this. 

K.C. said his transition has been both good and bad. He added that his time in the Marine Corps helped him to gain the self-discipline and time management skills that he now needs to succeed in college. He said when he needs to get something done he does it, and believes that this attitude has helped him in school. 

Instructors are also aware of the unique challenges that both traditional and nontraditional students face.                   Emily Brown, English professor, said she has noticed a similar trend that relates to Kapler and Flynn’s experiences. She stated that the skills acquired by returning adults can be helpful for them, and she has noticed that nontraditional students often appear to do better in her classes. She added that “many nontraditional students are more interested in an authentic learning experience,” as well as show a higher interest in their grades.

Regardless of the individual, Brown said she also believes that Kirkwood offers great resources to help ease whatever transition students are making. She noted that the personalized attention Kirkwood students receive from their instructors helps with this.          The Writing Center in 3067 Cedar Hall is free to all students, and offers one-on-one writing attention with English department staff. Career Services in 115 Linn Hall helps students with resume writing, interviewing skills, and career decision making.     

Students also have access to non-academic help at Counseling Services, located in 108 Iowa Hall. According to the Career Services Web page, on-staff counselors “listen, work with you and help get you moving in the right direction.”              Flynn said the freedoms of college life have been a change and a challenge that he finds both positive and negative. Kapler  also said her newfound freedoms have been a positive change, but a change that comes with some risk.                          Students like Flynn and Kapler experiencing an adjustment period in college can find all available resources to them at the Student Services Website, www.kirkwood .edu/studentservices.     

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