More than 35 percent of college students throughout the United States are considered adult nontraditional students—they are usually 25 years old or older, have taken a break from school or not gone to college right out of high school or are in the military.
UW Oshkosh is home to more than 3,000 of these students and celebrates national Nontraditional Student Week by hosting a variety of events and activities. Events will include a lunch-and-learn session on earning Credit for Prior Learning, a webinar outlining campus resources and the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society, Omega Kappa chapter induction ceremony.
“Nontraditional Student Week is a national celebration that was originated by the Adult Nontraditional Students in Higher Education (ANTSHE) group,” said Wendy Van Ahn, Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement (LLCE) Community Outreach Specialist. “UW Oshkosh chose to join in the celebration because we wanted to recognize our nontraditional students and their accomplishments.”
UW Oshkosh also serves nontraditional students throughout the year through support offices, adult learner friendly classes and degree programs through the Division of Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement.
William Wresch, associate dean for the College of Business, said the University wants to be responsive to adult students, and one way UW Oshkosh serves adult students is through the Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) initiative.
“Credit for Prior Learning recognizes that our nontraditional students have done significant work and have gained significant skills over the years,” Wresch said.
CPL allows adult students to earn credit for their college-level prior learning through a portfolio option, College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests and through selected military experience.
“One of the reasons that I enjoy teaching nontraditional students is because they bring in such a wealth of knowledge to the discussions,” Coy Sabel, CPL assessor, said. “CPL provides the opportunity to prove this knowledge in a tangible and objective manner in order to receive credit for subjects already known by the students through experience.”
Sherri Mahmoud, 52, returned to school in the summer of 2012 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in human services leadership, and she said she enjoys learning from her younger classmates.
“I bring as much life experience to my classmates as they bring to me,” Mahmoud said. “I want people to know that education can happen at any time. Education never has to stop — even when you’re out of school.”
Mahmoud wanted to get involved on campus as soon as she returned and is currently serving as the treasurer for the Nontraditional Student Organization (NTSO), which is a student group that hosts different academic and social based events to foster a nontraditional adult student community for support.
“I just decided to start doing things that were out of my comfort level,” Mahmoud said. “I really have had a lot of education, in addition to my classes, through different activities on campus.”
According to Mahmoud, it is the support she has received from other students that has helped her get out of her comfort zone and have such a good experience at UW Oshkosh.
“I have never had a bad experience at UW Oshkosh, and other nontraditional and traditional-aged students have really supported me and helped me feel part of the campus,” Mahmoud said.