Organization helps nontraditional students get the college experience

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    Bryan May juggles work, school, studying and sleep, just like many other students at TCU. However, May has a few more things on his plate—like a wife and family.

    Traditional students usually wake up, eat at Market Square and walk to class. May, an entrepreneurial management major, wakes up at 4:15 to study before working an 8 to 10-hour shift  and attending evening classes.  

    Nontraditional students include those who are older, balancing a family and school, veterans and those who have left the workforce. May said he thought many TCU students who graduated high school and went straight to college were accepting of nontraditional students.

    The university admitted 102 nontraditional students this fall, which was about 20 percent of the fall 2011 transfer class, Director of Transfer Admissions Amanda Sanchez said.

    As the President of TCU’s Nontraditional Student Organization, May’s goal was to make life more comfortable for a diverse group of TCU students.

    Because TCU is “focused primarily on a younger campus,” NTSO Vice President Barry Sullivan said there is a struggle for nontraditional students to find a place to fit in.

    Nontraditional students have an advantage of being mature and having a greater appreciation for a college degree, Sullivan said. Sullivan wants traditional students to succeed and match a nontraditional student’s sense of urgency and passion to succeed.

    NTSO members understand the “challenges of balancing a work schedule with your academic goals and dream,” Sullivan said.

    Nontraditional students “add so much breadth and depth to the learning experience of the traditional students,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Student Development Kay Higgins said.

    Higgins said she has seen a few spikes of interest in NTSO during her 35 years at TCU. Higgins thought this organization would be successful because it can communicate through OrgSync, Facebook, e-mail and TCU Announce.

    Ideas for events include study groups, coffee on Friday mornings at the TCU Barnes & Noble and get-togethers at sporting events, Sullivan said. The group’s events cater to the students’ needs, for example, children, work hours and class.

    Paola Chernosky, one of the  nontraditional students at TCU, works full time at the TCU Office of Admissions, raises her daughter and attends classes.

    “You cannot go back in time and change things, but you can move on right ahead,” Chernosky said.

    Sullivan thought the group involvement, passion and impact on other students would sustain NTSO for years to come.

    What: NTSO’s first fall 2011 meeting
    Date: Thursday, September 1
    Time: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    Where: Smith Hall, room 312