What is a non-traditional student?

A non-traditional student is anyone who has not just graduated from high school. Some non-traditional students include adults who have been downsized and are creating new careers. Others are housewives coming back to education after years of taking care of their families and homes. Some students need certain courses in order to move up in their jobs - or to hold onto their jobs. Still other non-traditional students have been mandated by the social services system to either work or obtain an education within a certain time limit. All kinds of reasons exist for adults to come back to school.


What do non-traditional students have in common?

What do all of these students have in common? Fear. They are afraid they will not fit in; they are afraid they have been out of school too long; they are afraid they won't succeed.

This fear may manifest itself in anger, sadness, inertia, an "attitude" problem, or overcompensation.


What do non-traditional students possess?

  • Responsibilities:
    • They've often suffered set-backs and heartaches.  They have responsibilities that most recent high school graduates have not yet experienced.  With demands from spouses, and/or children, and/or jobs, these students have problems balancing their schedules.  Paying for housing, food, utilities, daycare, transportation, books, and tuition strains their already limited resources. Therefore, these students may also have problems balancing their money. They encounter problems with their childcare sitters - often at the last minute.   They may also have transportation problems.
  • Motivation:
    • However, most non-traditional students are highly motivated.  They know it is up to them to make their lives better.  As a tutor, you can help them reinforce the relationship between successfully completing each course, which will help them meet their educational goals, which will lead to a new career, a new promotion, and/or a transition from welfare to the workforce.

      Letting these non-traditional students know that they are not alone, that there is an obtainable goal, and that they are the ones creating these changes in their own lives, often gives these students the confidence, determination, and encouragement they need to persevere.

Tutoring suggestions

  • Show genuine interest.
  • Use appropriate reinforcement.
  • Respect their past experience, but do not allow this to be an excuse for poor performance.
  • Model time management skills.
  • Be empathetic.
  • Relate information to known experience.
  • Use tutoring time wisely.  Remember, their time is usually very valuable.
  • If you are younger than your tutee, understand that older students may feel defensive about being tutored by a younger person.


Proceed To Step 9

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