Getting to know the nontraditional students of Louisiana Tech

March 29, 2018


Staff Reporter | jmf059@latech.edu


As Louisiana Tech’s enrollment increases every year, so does the diversity of the student population. Across the country, there’s a surge of non-traditional students — and Tech’s campus is no exception.


According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a non-traditional student is classified as any student over the age of 24. The age criteria is set because of life circumstances that can make degree completion more difficult and is based off of data of enrollment patterns, financial and family status and high school graduation status. Traditional students enroll in university directly after high school while attending as a full time student and complete their degree in four years.


“When I left school, I never felt like I was finished,” said Shawn Hood, Administrative Coordinator 3 and assistant to the management department head.


Leaving in 1980 to care for her children, Hood later re-enrolled and graduated in the class of 1989. With her experience as a non-traditional student and working in a position where she’s observed students for the past 29 years, she has noticed generational social changes.


“Depending on where I was stationed, I attended different classes to further my education,” said Carolyn Chadwick, junior computer information systems major. She was able to get transcripts to transfer to Tech summer quarter 2017.


Carolyn and Devin Chadwick are Army veterans who transitioned from their military occupation speciality code into college. Devin, a graduating senior also majoring in CIS, is the assistant director of technical operations for the financial aid office.


Differences between traditional and non-traditional students go beyond the surface.


“There aren’t as many financial aid opportunities for non-traditional students,” Carolyn said.


Because of their student classification, Carolyn and Devin were not eligible for scholarships like the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students.


“I notice that a lot of students are always on their cell phones,” Devin said. In the classroom, he is aware of a difference in attitude among younger students. “Sometimes they don’t seem to take it as serious.”


With more life experience and out of pocket costs, he feels as if there is a difference in maturity and priorities.


“A lot of people refer to me as the class mom or call me auntie,” Carolyn said. When she is in the classroom, Carolyn notices a difference in how interactive a class is based on its size. In smaller classroom settings, she says students are more interactive.


As a word of advice, Devin encourages students to ask more questions and not be afraid of getting a question wrong.


“Unless you get something wrong, you’ll never understand the process of getting something right,” Devin said.


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