by Maria Wylde
The United States economy has been in decline for the past several years. Unemployment is high, job security is low and our uncertainty of the future is at the highest it’s been in generations. All of this has led to non-traditional students returning to school in rising numbers and local community colleges such as MCC Longview are where many of them choose to start.
a non-traditional student is one who is over the age of 24, according to Donna Evans of the Institutional Enrollment Research Department at MCC-Longview. Non-traditional student enrollment has been between 35 and 36 percent of total enrollment each of the past five spring semesters, Evans said.
Longview students are returning to school for a variety of reasons, but they all center on wanting to create more opportunity in the future.
Tanner Giles plans to enroll at the University of Missouri – Columbia this summer to pursue a degree in computer science. Giles said saw the need for a change and returned to Longview after an eight-year absence working in his family’s construction business.
“I started working for my dad making really good money, but both my father and uncle have had major back problems” Giles said. ”I figured it was time that I do what I want for a living and not worry about breaking down my body due to construction.”
Going back to school after an absence isn’t without problems for some people. Juggling full-time jobs, kids and family is already difficult, before adding the stresses of school.
Lydia Matney returned to school at Longview in the fall of 2007, after taking time off to have a baby. She is finding that going back to school as a non-traditional student can be as difficult as it is rewarding.
“This decision has been good and not so good at the same time,” Matney said. “Both my husband and I are in school right now, so it has been difficult on our relationship because we do not see much of each other with both of us working full-time and going to school. It’s been hard finding time to spend together and also give attention to our son.”
There is also an upside, Matney said. “It has been a good decision because I know that I am accomplishing something I have always wanted to do. It will all pay off in the long run,” Matney wrote in an email.