JobsNOW: Non-traditional students get second chance at success

Any student over 35 years old is considered non-traditional

Many education programs are filling up with students you wouldn't normally expect to see back in a classroom.


LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – Many education programs are filling up with students you wouldn’t normally expect to see back in a classroom.

The term non-trad is short for a non-traditional student. It means any student over the age of 35 who returns to school. There is also a gender designation, which would be a woman in a male-dominated field such as welding or a man in an occupation such as nursing.

Dr. Kelly Darney, executive director at Columbiana County Career and Technical Center (CCCTC), said non-traditional students are typically those who have lost their job or been laid off, and some are looking for a new career.


Stacey Lindsay and Kim McGuire are two single mothers who started classes in September, going to school from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Lindsay has two children, a grown daughter with a physical therapy degree, plus one who’s in 7th grade. McGuire has two grown children, four grandchildren with a fifth one on the way. They both have given up a lot to go back to school and get a degree.

McGuire had a clerical job for 32-years but lost it earlier this year. She got the medical bug just by seeing a support group in action helping others.

“For me at my age, I average about five to six hours of studying a night after I leave here, which is a lot,” McGuire said. “I’m more dedicated now than when I was in school. I have a goal. When I was in high school, I didn’t have a goal.”

At CCCTC, the school of practical nursing has 70 students, 32 percent of them are non-trads. The state wants schools to serve at least 9 percent, which this class easily has covered.

Lindsay lost her job in home health care, but she’s turning that into a positive by studying now to be a nurse, advancing to the next level so she can provide more care.

“The first day was a lot because there were a lot of people in the class. A lot more than I was expecting there to be,” Lindsay said.

Many of the students haven’t studied for years. Now they have plenty of homework. The biggest thing they need help with is technology. Darney said many non-traditional students know how to use Facebook and get an email, but they don’t know how to use technology for educational purpose like some of their younger counterparts.

“I think they feel a little awkward at first, but we try to make everybody feel like one big family. And once they are in, they’re okay,” Darney said.

Also, many non-traditional students struggle to get back into that studying mode, but most learn to adjust, focus and move forward.

“You just have to be willing to devote the time and can’t just think that you are going to come in and not study and pass because it is an intense program,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay and McGuire’s program will take one year to complete. When they are finished, they will have the value-added component of being a mature and reliable employee.

“If you are in a nursing home and you have a choice someone who is 18 years old taking care of you or somebody who is in their 50s, the motherly person is often the one they will choose,” Darney said.

For more information about CCCTC, click here.

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