Bestcolleges.com ranked the U No. 2 in the nation for non-traditional students.
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Non-traditional students are defined as students over the age of 25 who are taking university classes. According to a U press release, in 2014 over 32 percent of the undergraduate students at the U were classified as non-traditional students. Bestcolleges.com stated that the U “[caters] to a diverse demographic … [by offering a] flexible hybrid and completely online coursework through continuing education programs. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute teaches classes geared toward students age 50 and older. In addition to certifications and professional training, the college offers non-credit courses in gardening, cooking and other hobbies.”
The rise in older students at the U can be attributed to the culture that exists in Utah. It’s common for young men and women to postpone college and serve missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Additionally, military service can also be a factor that prolongs college education.
Despite the different circumstances students face in obtaining their degrees, the U has instituted a number of programs to help individuals either returning to school or starting their education for the first time.
One of these resources is providing on-campus child care to aid student parents. The service is run out of the basement of the Alfred Emery Building (AEB) on Presidents Circle and accepts infants as young as a few weeks old. Nichole Tawzer, a recent graduate of the U, works in the child care center and said extended hours are offered to help accommodate parents’ needs.
“Going to school and having a child can be a challenge,” Tawzer said. “We provide an environment that allows the student to have fun and learn while their parent is advancing their own educational goals.”
In 2007, the University College advising office created the Returning to the U program to assist returning students who left before completing graduation requirements. Advisors work with these individuals to make the transition back into their college education an easy one.
The U also is a member of a national chapter of the Alpha Sigma Theta honor society. Created in 2009, the program was developed to encourage adult learners to complete their bachelor degree. The members are non-traditional students and must have completed at least 24 credit hours at the U at the time of induction into the organization. They are also required to be in the top 20 percent of students at the U.
A number of non-traditional students are known as HB60 students. HB60 refers to House Bill 60 that allows students aged 62 and older to audit classes for $25 per semester. Many older students utilize this program to learn new things and take part in interesting, professor-led class discussions.
Sarah Bischoff, an undeclared freshman, said she enjoys having older students in her classes because they always have an interesting point of view to add to the class.
“The older people who have been in my classes will always chime in and keep the conversation rolling,” Bischoff said. “They have experienced a lot more than I have, and I feel like we can all learn things from them if we take the time to listen.”
Rachel Bissegger, a history major, is a mother taking classes and said she is thankful for all of the programs the U offers to help non-traditional students.
“The best thing about the U is it brings students from all backgrounds and all life experiences together and gives us all an equal chance to complete our degrees,” she said. “As a mother, I needed help, and the U was there to put the pieces together and let me work out my schedule.”