Feb. 09, 2015

Kyle Guthrie
kguthri2@uccs.edu

The traditional college student has always been perceived as a high school graduate who has been accepted into a college to pursue a four year degree. But the concept and encouragement of non-traditional students is one that UCCS has never shied away from.

Non-traditional students are an emerging demographic on college campuses, and can qualify as anything from older students to students who possess unique skill sets or lifestyles.

“One needs to consider how non-traditional is defined,” said Jacqueline Bisaillon, counselor at the Admissions Counseling and Student Recruitment Office.

“Non-traditional students include students over a certain age, job experience, students with kids, military background and cultural experiences, among others. Not all of these identifying factors are visible or quantifiable.”

While there is no clear reason why UCCS may be a popular destination for non-traditional students, several possible factors include its reputation among the military and its roots as a commuter college.

“We know UCCS serves a large ‘non-traditional’ population,” Bisaillon said, “and is very attractive to returning military, parents with children and older students working towards a bachelor’s degree.”

Bisaillon also explained that giving an exact number of non-traditional students on campus is something of an impossibility.

There are also non-traditional students who fall under the umbrella of online learning. Many of these students prefer learning from home as opposed to in-class instruction.

“We are seeing an increased interest in our online degree completion programs,” Chris Beiswanger, director of Admissions, explained.

“Especially with the [Registered Nurse] and [Bachelor School of Nursing]. We’re seeing an increased interest and enrollment playing itself out in several other fields as well, such as business, a little bit in criminal justice and sociology.”

Beiswanger explained that some online programs are still more popular than others.

“The biggest program in terms of popularity is the RN to BSN program,” Beiswanger said. “Students that had an associate’s degree in nursing from a community and junior college, and who want to complete the rest of the requirements of the program, those tend to have the highest enrollment numbers for online programs.”

Beiswanger also said that while traditional students make up a large segment of the increasing student body, non-traditional students are part of the increasing population as well.\

“What we’re seeing is an increase in traditionally aged freshmen, such as 17 and 18 years, coming here, there’s still a healthy amount of 25-year-plus students coming here as well,” Beiswanger said.

“We’d like to encourage increasing that group, as any school would. That population is very much important when the economy is good and that older student is able to get a job and go back to school.”

Regardless of the reasons for the high non-traditional student population, Bisaillon said the school values their presence.

“UCCS started off as solely a non-residential campus which drew many local non-traditional students to the campus,” Bisaillon said. “Non-traditional students bring different experience, knowledge and perspectives to classroom discussion.”