Boise State nontraditional students give fresh meaning to ‘freshmen’

Boise State nontraditional students give fresh meaning to ‘freshmen’

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Bryan Talbot / The Arbiter

The first day of school often brings jitters to new and returning students. Some of the jitters come from being reunited with friends or from pre-class anxiety, but other students feel the jitters come from a time lapse.

A new generation of students has started to return to school. Landing outside the “traditional” mark, Boise State nontraditional students are  generally 26 years of age or older and have been out of school for more than two years.

According to Jim Anderson, associate vice president for Enrollment Services, there are advantages to going back to school as a nontraditional student.

“Nontraditional students can improve and enrich the classroom experience with different viewpoints and experiences,” Anderson said in an email.

Anderson provided  research showing that while there might be a trend of nontraditional students returning to school, Boise State hasn’t yet seen a substantial wave of returning students.

In fact the last four years shows a slight decrease of nontraditional students enrolling at Boise State.

In 2010 the university accounted for 2,143 nontraditional students; that number fell to 2,033 in fall semester 2013.

While nontraditional students make up a small number of students at Boise State, their enthusiasm is no less than their traditional counterparts. Joining the nontraditional number next semester is Beverly Knapp, an assistant manager and consumer loan lender of Idaho Banking Company.

“You don’t need a degree to climb the ladder in banking, but if you have your degree you can cut to the chase,” Knapp said. “Personally, I’m at a point in my life where my children are raised, both my parents are deceased and it’s the right timing for me.”

Knapp is returning to school for the fall semester after spending 35 years in banking. She took the time to raise four children, care for her mother and focus on her career before deciding to return.

“I’m going back to school for general business,” Knapp said. “That’s what I know I’m strong at. At 50 years old, I know that [business] is my strength.”

Going back to school won’t be the most unique transition for Knapp. Her daughter will also be attending during the same semester—which is an unfamiliar situation to younger nontraditional students.

“My youngest daughter is a senior at Boise State and she is very proud that I am going back to school,” Knapp said. “My four children are all supportive. As a parent I expect certain things from my children. I’ve put that on myself double whammy. I want my kids to be proud of me in a scholastic way.”

Knapp said she has enrolled to better herself and her situation.

“I just want my degree because I think it is important for upper management to know that I have taken the time and have been educated through the books,” Knapp said. “I do think it’s important to have your degree. I’d love to have my degree in my office. Instead, I have achievement awards.”

Eryn Shay Johnson
Eryn Shay Johnson is the Assistant News Editor at the Arbiter. She currently studies communication at Boise State University. Johnson has a history in producing media content; she has produced content for The Post Register of Idaho Falls and The Times-News in Twin Falls. Her article “Good for the Soul: Group uses laughter as path to better health” was picked up by the Associated Press in July 2011. When she isn’t writing or studying Johnson spends time with her boyfriend, dog, and cat in their south Boise home.

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