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Non-Traditional vs. Traditional Student Life

written by: Mihir Shah•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 6/23/2010

The life of the non-traditional vs. traditional college student is intricately weaved on one common goal: achieving a college degree. While traditional students are less focused on this goal and more focused on the college experience, the non-traditional students balance work, family, and career.

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    Ways of Student Life

    Sometimes the traditional way to live life isn't always the most feasible, because of the many obstacles that can come in an individual's life. For some, it never is as easy as saying, pre-school, elementary, middle school, high school, college, graduate school and then a six-figure salary at the best firm or company. In fact, the Department of Education reports that nearly 13% of the non-traditional students are single parents. Whether adults go back to school to finish a degree or advance their career, there is a clear sense of motivation and a greater likelihood of success. This is probably due to their maturity levels far exceeding that of budding teenagers.

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    Traditional Student Life

    The trajectory of traditional student life is nearly set in stone. The individual goes through the educational system at all levels and ultimately seeks a job that matches the earned degree. The advantage of traditional life for students is that they are on the same level as the majority of their peers. They can enjoy the dorm life and parties and can essentially view college as party time. These students face less pressure than non-traditional students and can really get a panoramic experience of college life.

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    Non-Traditional Student Life

    While the traditional student is enjoying the college lifestyle, the non-traditional student often finds himself juggling an array of responsibilities while trying to complete his education. Non-traditional students aren't seen as much loitering around campus pubs and popular hangout places; however, they are more likely to be the students that have their faces buried in the library working feverishly to finish a paper so they can attend a work meeting. There is a distinct advantage to this way of non-traditional life: non-traditional students know their goal and will leave no stone unturned to accomplish it. While traditional students are changing their major multiple times and struggling to identify their passion, non-traditional students enter the university with a tangible goal and generally don't get diverted throughout the duration of the program.

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    Non-traditional vs. Traditional Student Life

    The lives of the non-traditional vs. traditional college student are strangely intertwined. While many would be quick to assume that the two groups cannot get along, they would be surprised to note that these two groups are quick to strike friendship. In a unique sort of way, non-traditional students want what the traditional students have: no pressure and the chance to live the college life in their teens. On the contrary, traditional students admire the resolve of the non-traditional students, who already have families, careers, etc, and usually are in college to further their careers. The fact of the matter is that traditional students and non-traditional students have access to the same college resources and are similar in many ways. They both want to achieve the ultimate goal that college present to them: achieve a bachelor's degree and move on to greater things.