High school. College. Internship. Graduation. Job. We all know the typical path to success and the steps we should take to get there. But many students have chosen a more unique direction to success and that often includes attending college at a later age. These students are usually referred to as non-traditional students. We are not talking about “gap year” students only taking a year off, although many programs that cater to non-traditional students will still accept those with a year or more gap between high school graduation and college entrance.
Students attend college as adults for many reasons. Some had careers that required them to work during their traditional college age years. Celebrities and athletes may not want to interrupt the prime career development years of their late teens and early 20s. Professional dancers might find their career coming to an end earlier than those in most professions and decide to retrain for another career path. Young people may want to complete military service. Or maybe school wasn’t right for them and they dropped out only later to decide they were now ready to complete their formal education.
For some students, returning to school as a non-traditional student opens up opportunities to attend Ivy League colleges that may have been impossible for them coming out of high school. Institutions such as Columbia University School of General Studies, Harvard Extension School, Yale’s Eli Whitney Program and Brown’s Resumed Undergraduate Education (RUE) program all have dedicated programs or schools specifically for non-traditional students. These programs usually have different admissions requirements and take into consideration the potential student’s life experience, as well as their academics.
New York University’s Paul McGhee Division for non-traditional students will even work with students to turn their life experiences into actual class credits. By proving you have already learned a subject through work or personal study that might be part of the core curriculum, a student can develop a portfolio to present to the school for credit. Another popular way of gaining credit for existing knowledge is the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) test which is accepted at over 2,900 colleges and universities. By taking advantage of these opportunities, a student will graduate faster and save money.