Definition Of Non-Traditional Students: A Paradigm Change
The Association of Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education (ANTSHE) defines a Non-Traditional Student as having the following characteristics:
- Delays enrollment (does not enter post secondary education in the same calendar year that he or she finished high school)
- Attends part time for at least part of the academic year
- Works full time (35 hours or more per week) while enrolled.
- Is considered financially independent for purposes of determining eligibility for financial aid
- Has dependents other than a spouse (usually children, but sometimes others.
- Is a single parent (either not married or married but separated).
I’d like to propose a paradigm shift of the non-traditional student. A non-traditional student is an individual who attends post secondary school either by distance, through life experience portfolios, by taking either course created tests or standardized tests, by life experiences itself (i.e. apprenticeship or by any other modality outside of the classroom experience). To expand on all of these will take too much space and time in one article. However, I will briefly discuss “life experience portfolios”.
As far as we are accustomed to, schooling is thought of as a classroom experience, obtaining as much credit as you can towards a degree. Experiential education, on the other hand, is “learning outside the box”. One of the ways to learn outside the box is by something called a “life experience portfolio”.
According to the Council on Adult and Experiential Learning a portfolio consists of documents needed in order to obtain credit for what you have learned through life experiences. This can be accomplished by preparing a short autobiography, a short list of college subjects you are attempting to challenge (get credit by documentation), showing where you learned about the subject(s), how it changed the way you understand the subject from previous understanding, how are you using that knowledge, what its affects are (using primary and/or secondary evidence/documentation). To give all the examples of primary and secondary documentation would be too long. However, generally, primary documentation/evidence is that which was created by students themselves. Secondary evidence is that which is created by other people for students’ use.
The portfolio can be used for practically any subject taught in college or university. Most colleges have that mode of gaining credit already. Colleges around the world also allow that pathway. However, each college has limitations on the amount of credit one can get towards that degree with one exception. Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey has no limitations on credit through life experience. In conclusion, we must alter the definition of a non-traditional student because our world is changing exponentially, not only in the education arena, but in all disciplines.