Non-traditional students: The unsung heroes of UCCS

Mar. 28, 2016

Hannah Harvey
hharvey@uccs.edu

Last semester, I embraced adulthood and started my first semester of college. I quickly learned that UCCS is a non-traditional school.

Although advancements are being made to include traditional students, the campus still caters primarily to commuters who want a school that’s not too close to home but not more than an hour’s drive away.

There are many valuable life lessons I have learned from attending a non-traditional university that I wouldn’t have experienced at a traditional college.

The first lesson lies with the student body.

At UCCS, we have students of all majors.

More importantly, we have students of all ages and backgrounds.

Some of the first friends I made as an intimidated freshman were older students. They were coming back to school to further their education. Some were attending their first college class like me.

Their wisdom from living through some painful experiences, juggling 16 credits on top of a full-time job, kids and homework taught me a lot about what it means to work hard.

I admire students who got only two hours of sleep because they were tending to a sick child or worked the graveyard shift but still showed up to class and passed their midterm.

I admire students who have not taken calculus since their senior year 20 years ago and are still able to explain the material better than I ever could.

It all comes down to hard work. Being talented at what you do is important, but you don’t achieve anything without working hard.

I’ve never seen someone work as hard to achieve their goals as a non-traditional student. Maintaining a balance between work, school and family can be difficult, but this difficulty builds strength and allows you to persevere.

People go to college for different reasons. A student may be going back for a second bachelor’s degree to get a better job to provide for their kids. Whatever the reason, that student is only going to benefit themselves and the people around them by improving their quality of life.

Finally, I’ve learned to accept others and all that they go through.

It’s easy to be critical of someone because they decided to not show up to class. But I think that that is the easy way out.

I’m reminded to look at all of the external factors that someone may be dealing with in their life. Non-traditional students don’t live on campus; they cannot rely on their dorm mates to help them out.

While colleges may try to cater to students that live on campus and are fresh from high school, the real heroes that keep our doors open are the non-traditional students.

I’ve learned so much from them, and am grateful for their sacrifice and determination to work hard despite life’s curveballs. That’s what makes UCCS stand out.