By Maria B. Russell
In the past, few adults went back to school to complete their education. Today, more adults than ever are returning to college, so many, in fact, that the term “non-traditional student” has become a common term. A “trigger event,” such as getting passed over for a job promotion, a looming merger, a divorce, an empty nest or retirement, often serves as a catalyst for self-improvement.
It’s perfectly natural to have some concerns (OK, fear) about going back to school if it has been in the rearview mirror for decades, but this works in favor of non-traditional students because it gives them a head start on younger students. For one thing, older students have a broader knowledge of the world and how it works. Years of jobs, paying bills and raising a family have provided a sense of perspective that younger students won’t have until, well, they’re older.
Non-traditional students are also better equipped to deal with red tape. They’ve had years of experience finding the answers to questions, compared to their younger counterparts who are accustomed to waiting for mom or dad to handle their problems. Older students have the advantage of knowing what it’s like to be paid less than what they’re worth, to be passed up for a promotion, to sacrifice their needs for those of their family or to be laid off. These adversities and other life challenges often provide the motivation and the focus to succeed.
Many colleges have developed specific
programs to encourage adults in their renewed educational pursuits. Hopkinsville Community College, with 64 percent of its student population being older than 25, is one of them.
HCC’s GED preparation program is free, and with new classes starting every three weeks, anytime is a good time to begin.
Those who graduate a GED program join a list of individuals that include actors Bill Cosby, Michael J. Fox and John Travolta, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and comedian Chris Rock.
Research shows that adults who pass their GED have a heightened sense of self-esteem, are more likely to continue their education, have better employment options than high school dropouts and usually tell their own children to finish school.
A GED as well as a high school diploma are accepted at HCC for admission, which makes it easier for non-traditional students to return to school. A prospective student can find admission requirements online at www.hopkinsville.kctcs.edu. If you don’t own a personal computer, call the college at 1-855-22-GO-HCC or drop by the Administration Building on the main campus at 720 North Drive.
If you plan to enroll in classes at the Fort Campbell campus, remember that the Fort Campbell campus maintains a different registration schedule than the Hopkinsville campus.
According to the website, the Fort Campbell campus offers five 8-week terms throughout the year: January, March, May, August, and October.
New students to the Fort Campbell campus are required to attend an Enable advising session prior to enrolling in courses. Call 270-707-3810 or 270-707-3976 to reserve a seat. The Fort Campbell campus is located inside Gate 4 at 202 Bastogne Ave, Fort Campbell.
One computer-less, non-traditional student, Gregory Smith, pointed out that the college’s Student Services “was a godsend” in helping him complete the necessary online applications for both college admission and financial aid.
There are a variety of educational opportunities available at HCC besides traditional lecture classes such as adult education programs, employer-sponsored training programs, instructional television classes, online and night courses. This gives non-traditional students, many of whom have full-time jobs and family obligations, several options and the ability to customize their educational plan according to their schedule. Indeed, “time management is the most critical component of juggling all of these important commitments,” according to non-traditional student Amy Nightingale, an HCC graduate who now majors in social work at Murray State University.
To learn is to grow, and in the words of George Washington Carver, “Education is the key to unlocking the golden door of freedom.”
If you’ve been considering making the leap, give it a shot. Take it from other adults who have gone back to school: It is never too late and you’ll never regret it. There is no doubt that both your self- confidence and self-esteem will soar as a result.
By Maria B. Russell