One of the distinguishing characteristics of a nontrad is age. UT defines an "adult student" as someone who is over the age of 25. How many of us remember being 25? To me, that was eons ago! Studentmum tells me that in the UK, nontrads are known as "mature" students.
I am involved in an ongoing dialog on the Yahoo nontrad page regarding age discrimination. It seems that one of the members feels he is being discriminated against because he was asked to move out of student housing due to his age. The consensus from the group is that he needs to fight that discrimination since the information on his school's website says nothing about a student's age with regard to student housing. He is experiencing age discrimination - pure and simple.
Another topic in this discussion was age discrimination on the job. How many nontrads have been passed over at work for a younger person? I believe that many employers have bought into the attitude that "younger is better" - they don't have to pay a younger person as much, they can demand more from a younger person without fear of reprisal, etc. What employers don't get when they hire younger people is the benefit of experience, wisdom and maturity. In my opinion, "older" people are more punctual, they have a stronger work ethic and they understand what's expected in order to get the job done right the first time. All that is something one has to teach a younger person. That can be difficult with this generation's sense of entitlement.
Elizabeth Shepperd asked the Yahoo group if anyone had been the victim of discrimination - age, gender or race? I'm sure there are many stories out there regarding discrimination of all sorts.
My two cents' worth to the discussion was that as nontrads, while we are exploring our education, we should also explore where we fit in, find our niche. Orville Redenbacher said, "Do one thing and do it well." This evening, I had the chance to pass along some information I had garnered during my research on the German POW camps in Tennessee. It was cool to be able to speak from the broad base of knowledge I have accumulated on the subject. I am creating my niche. I want to know all there is to know about the German POW camps in Tennessee - not just one camp, but all four and several branch camps. I'm getting there. I'm creating my niche.
Nontrads have a great deal to offer - on the college campus, in the classroom, and in the boardroom! Things like life experience, wisdom, maturity, knowledge about a subject not many others may know about, etc.
Good luck in finding and/or creating your own niche. Stay tuned . . .