Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Been A While

Greetings, fellow nontrads! The University if Tennessee will begin classes in a few short days. Don't know if I told you, but I after getting my Bachelor's in History, I promptly got a job in the Department of Mathematics. I love it! I have been taking Master's classes in Human Resource Management. Haven't taken my GRE yet (I am terrified of it!!!) and have not been admitted into the program, but I have applied to the Graduate School as a non-degree seeking student. Will let you know how things go!

I have seen such an influx in nontraditional students on campus in the last year! I would attribute that to both the economy and early retirement buy-outs. What do you think? I am excited by the increase in nontrads. We help to bolster graduation rates since we are more apt to graduate within a few years than our younger counterparts.

I want to take this opportunity to encourage my fellow nontrads as they return to school - either online or on campus. You can do it!! Stay tuned . . .

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spring Into It!

Here we are again - spring semester. Classes at UT start on Wednesday, January 11, 2012. I am taking classes again this semester. I am going to explore a Master's in Human Resources Management. I have a 500 level Human Resource Management class on Monday nights and a writing class (Business and Technical Writing) on Tuesday and Thursdays.

Several people have asked me recently, "Didn't you graduate?" "Yes, in May." "Then why are you still taking classes?" "I love to learn!" They scratch their heads and walk away, totally befuddled.

The collegiate atmosphere and the tuition-free perk combine to motivate me to continue my education. I told one of the math profs this afternoon that I tried to make it as a professional student, but it wasn't a very lucrative career move. Oh, well.

My advice for anyone who is considering returning to school:
1. Take it one step at a time. Try one class at the community college.
2. Yes, you CAN do this. It's like riding a bike. There are lots of nontrads out there and many colleges have increased their resources for nontrads.
3. This is a huge goal to set, but an even bigger one to accomplish. You are capable of accomplishing this goal.

Share your story with others! People will be encouraged by your story. Hang in there and have a great semester! Stay tuned . . .

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Word of Encouragement

I know it's about that time again - mid-terms. Just want to encourage all my fellow nontrads out there. You can do it!! This semester will be over soon. Gear up now to end the semester strong. Don't wimp out yet! Remember the Little Engine That Could, but instead of "I think I can! I think I can!", tell yourself "I know I can and this, too, shall pass."

Sharpen those pencils, recharge that laptop/iPad and bring on the coffee! Stay tuned . . .

I Don't Get It

I am taking an Environmental Ethics class this semester - it's a Philosophy class. (groan) I have discovered that Philosophy is very much like math and languages. They are all logical, linear subjects. I am not linear at all. I'm more randomly spatially concrete (as opposed to random), though at times, my random musings are anything but concrete - but, I digress.

On my path to greatness, I have discovered that one is either a words (expressive) or a numbers (logical) person. I am definitely words. Words are expressive and can be used like watercolors - splashed all over the place to make a beautiful masterpiece. I have talked to several mathematicians who have argued that logic makes sense and that numbers can be used to define, interpret, calculate, model, etc. anything in the known (and unknown) universe. Math is THE universal language. Hmmm.

I still don't get it - math, logic, etc. I am so NOT logical, numerical, rational. Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water where I work - the Math Department at UT. That has more to do with my learning style than it does with my being a nontrad. Which brings me to the point of this post - do you know your learning style? I would hope by this point in your nontrad life, you would have some clue. However, if not, there is a fabulous book out there entitled, "The Way They Learn" by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. It may be out of print, but I'm sure one can find it at a used book store. Tobias not only covers the three basic learning styles - auditory, visual and tactile - but she adds several more layers. Whew! It's a fascinating and enlightening read.

If you feel like you don't get it - math, history, philosophy, etc. - don't fault being a nontrad. Instead, fault your learning style. I'll say some more about how to work with the different learning styles later (when I find out where the book went in all the boxes I packed from my recent move). In the meantime, know that you are not alone if you don't get it. Try these tips:

1. Go visit the prof during office hours or send him/her an email and ask him/her to explain (in 50 words or less) what you are having trouble with.
2. Form a study group and learn from your peers. Someone else in the group may be having the same problem you are and may also benefit from the group experience.
3. Use the campus resources - math tutorial center, writing lab, language lab, etc.

You can do it! It took me 31 years to get my Bachelor's degree and it wasn't always an easy road. Hang in there and come back to visit often! Stay tuned . . .

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Long Haul

When I returned to school in the fall of 2006, I fully expected to be able to graduate two years later. Things didn't quite turn out that way. It took me four years - two of going to school part time and two of going to school full time - in order to complete my degree. Sometimes it seemed like I would never graduate. There were times when I would think, "What am I doing here? Am I being realistic? Is it worth it?"

One of the major characteristics of being a nontraditional student that clearly sets us apart from our younger counterparts is that life is happening all around us - aging parents, school-aged children, a mortgage, a job, single parenting, etc. School is just one of the many balls we are juggling. Larry the Laptop, Minnie the Mini and I were best friends for a number of years. Wherever I went - high school and college sporting events, weekend visits to see children out of town, spring break in Phoenix, etc. - Larry or Minnie went, too. Folks got used to seeing Larry or Minnie and me together. I was never without Larry or Minnie, my backpack and books and my flash drive.

Sometimes it seems like the journey will never end - late nights spent studying or writing that paper because you spent the early evening helping your children with homework; weekend afternoons trying to balance time with family and time with the books; scheduling parent-teacher conferences between classes. No one ever said being a nontrad would be easy - and it isn't!! However, there is a whole world of support out there for those of us who have had the courage enough to return to school as an "older" person. Google "Nontraditional Students" and one gets over 770,000 entries! Nontrads are important in many ways, especially as colleges try to reverse the trend of low graduation rates. (

I remember a former classmate of mine - Bob. He was 52 and returning to school to get his degree in History so he could manage a friend's construction company. Bob died of a heart attack in April of 2008 - one month before he was set to graduate. He was always so encouraging - he made cookies for his younger classmates, carried a total of 19 hours, and was an "expert" in many of his history classes because he was more than twice as old as his classmates and had lived through the era they were studying.

You may find yourself asking the same questions I did - "What am I doing here? Am I being realistic? Is this all worth it?" Yes - as a brand new nontrad, a seasoned veteran and an anxious one-semester-away-from-graduation nontrad - it's worth it. By the time you are finished with your degree, whether it's Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's or PhD, you will have accomplished something great. You will have accomplished a huge goal you set for yourself. So hang in there! Yes, it's a long haul but well worth the journey. Stay tuned . .