By Amanda Stephens
My path to a college education has been non-traditional at best and glacial at worst. Working a full-time job, combined with financial and family obligations, have occasionally reduced me to taking only a course or two per semester at the local community college for well over a decade.
Undoubtedly it’s more difficult to concentrate on our studies when we’re also worrying about mortgage payments and aging parents or growing kids, but the non-traditional path to higher education is quickly becoming the new normal.
Like many people, I got serious about going back to school during the Great Recession, when I realized that my skills wouldn’t get me an interview without a B.A. to back them up. Indeed, many companies now winnow out any applicants without a four-year degree rather than taking the time to see how individual hires’ skills, trainability, and personalities could benefit their organization.
Non-traditional students, by necessity as well as definition, must have well-developed Life Ready Skills if they hope to succeed in their collegiate careers:
Crucially, as an organization made up largely of former educators, engage2learn understands that the skills and energy that non-traditional learners bring to higher education are the same they bring to their employers.
As concern about degree inflation begins to grow, it becomes imperative that non-traditional students, as well as potential “middle skilled” hires, can provide evidence of their hard-won Life Ready Skills. Likewise, it becomes more and more important that employers seek skill and culture fits for applicants, rather than relying on the crutch of a four-year degree to prove the existence of other necessary attributes.
In the meantime, I’m finally on schedule to graduate this summer!
Love your growth mindset; powerful story, Amanda!
You are a beautiful, living example of grit! Thank you for sharing your personal story, Amanda.
Love this poignant and timely perspective that is so true our current reality! Thank you for sharing and leading us all to venture outside our comfort zones!
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