Being a Successful Nontraditional Student

By Angelica Diaz
Jambar Contributor

Youngstown State University defines a nontraditional student as someone who is 25 years or older, or who is a parent, spouse, full-time employee or caregiver. Active duty servicemembers, Reservists and veterans of the military are also considered nontraditional students.

Tammy Kemble, a 37-year-old junior respiratory therapy major, said she always worked part-time jobs in the restaurant business, as a waitress and cook before she came to YSU.

She said once she got to the university she wanted to be “involved.”

“I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl,” Kemble said. “I wanted to consider my education, my nine-to-five job. So, I looked for campus employment.”

She currently works as an office assistant at YSU and enjoys the benefits that come with the position.

“I come to campus every morning at 8 a.m. and stay till my last class of the day,” Kemble said.

She said she normally stays on campus until about 4 p.m. and is always looking for a corner to study in.

Kemble said she and her fellow classmates help each other.

“We stay after class. We help each other. We do our homework together. We do our study guides together for our test,” she said. “Whenever we can, we are always meeting at the respiratory lab and cracking the books.”

Kemble said her mother and daughter are her inspiration, and her mother is a hardworking woman who worked many jobs and did the best to provide for her.

“I don’t want to say I want to be better than her, but I know she has raised me to be better than her,” she said.

Once she graduates she plans to take a break first, then jump into her career field.

Kemble said there are a variety of options in the respiratory field.

“Before I commit to something one hundred percent, I think I am going to exercise my scope of varieties and then decide,” she said.

Kemble said once she starts to works in the respiratory field, she wants to work her way up.

“I am not settling,” she said. “I want to be at the top — at my age, like I said, all or nothing. I am going for it all. I am going big.”

She advises other nontraditional students to never give up.

“As a nontraditional student life is not easy,” Kemble said. “Some days are beautiful and shiny. Sometimes it’s stormy, and windy and crazy. Eventually the sun will shine again. Keep at it.”

Migdalia McClendon, assistant director for diversity recruitment and admissions, said there are many reasons and motivations for nontraditional student to attend college.

“For some students, it’s their own career or personal goals that motivates them,” she said. “For others, it’s the economy that brings them into our admissions office in Sweeney Hall. When potential students are underemployed, they decide to return to school to get retrained or complete a degree to gain higher wages or salary.”

McClendon advises nontraditional students to attend class, study two hours for every hour of class and use a calendar to keep track of assignments, tests and quizzes. She said following these steps will help nontraditional students be successful.