Three ways Centennial College helps non-traditional students

Image of non-traditional students in the classroom

The National Center for Education Statistics defines a non-traditional student as someone who enters school with some combination of the following: They're financially independent, have dependents such as children, are a caregiver for others, don't have a traditional high school diploma, have delayed their enrollment in post-secondary education, engage in part-time classes, or are employed full-time.

Basically, anyone that isn't a teenage high school graduate is non-traditional. Indeed, as University Affairs points out, non-traditional students are now the majority. Maybe you're older, maybe you're a parent, maybe you're already working. According to this Canadian study published by College Quarterly, the ranks of non-traditional students are growing and becoming the new norm, meaning -- as a reader -- there's a good chance this is you.

Here's a blog containing stories of non-traditional students, including:

- A man who went through poverty, signed up for the army after high school, was discharged after an injury, entered the workforce, started a family then, years later, decided to educate himself in Human Resources

- A 41-year-old mother of three, working as a waitress while also going to college full-time, trying to balance her time.

Do these sound like you? If so, we have resources that can help you out.

Education focused on skills

As a non-traditional student, you probably view the classroom experience under the lens of "how this can help me" instead of "what will I learn." In other words, you’re looking to pick things up that will immediately have a positive affect on your life.

That's why non-traditional students don't find lectures to be particularly effective, preferring programming with discussion, collaboration, and direct links to their own activities. In other words, practical experience is preferred, and luckily for them, that's what Centennial College specializes in. Our education is skills-based, meaning we're focused on getting you physically practicing the subjects you're studying, with lectures as background. If you want to be a chef, you'll be cooking, if you want to work with cars, we've got cars to work with, and if you want to make media, we have the tools. This practical experience is supported by our laboratories and facilities containing equipment and resources from each career we teach, including mechanical and automotive labs at our Ashtonbee campus, kitchen and cooking facilities at our Progress campus, and audiovisual studios at our Story Arts campus, and hospital rooms and an actual ambulance at our Morningside campus.

Part-time and distance learning

One of the biggest challenges every non-traditional student faces is a time crunch. Aside from the raw numbers, College Quarterly's study also identified this as a common challenge for non-traditional students. When you've got a job or family (or both) to take care of, you don't necessarily have time to take part in campus life. That's why part-time learning exists at Centennial College, letting you get your education in a manner that fits with your busy schedule, with classes that take place in the evenings and weekends, leaving your 9-to-5 free. If you need even more time, we also offer distance learning courses. These special online programs are taught by the same instructors that teach in our classrooms, who use videos, discussion, and other online resources to recreate a classroom environment.

Our student resources serve non-traditional students

At Centennial,w e have child care centres on Progress Campus and near our Story Arts Centre so if you need us to watch your kids, we can provide that service. We have academic support and counselling to help you deal with the workload, and we financial aid advisors who can offer monetary guidance.

By Anthony Geremia

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