Succeeding As a Non-Traditional Graduate Student: Building a Supportive Network

Monday, August 18, 2014: 4:00 PM
204B (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Robin L. DeBruyne , Department of Natural Resources, Cornell Biological Field Station, Cornell University, Bridgeport, NY
Edward F. Roseman , USGS Great Lakes Science Center, Ann Arbor, MI
While no formal definition exists, non-traditional students (also called adult learners) are typically older (>25 years) and may possess a combination of life experiences different from the “traditional” student who matriculated to graduate school directly from an undergraduate program.  These life experiences might include parenthood, marriage, status as veterans of the military or Peace Corps, full or part-time employment, and other life experiences that can add to the cultural and character diversity of the educational setting.  Non-traditional students bring distinctly different perspectives and reflection which meld their passions and interests in academics, research, and their home and family life. As more students engage in graduate education later in life, the instances of non-traditional students will increase.  As such, earning success in higher education will require special consideration by the student, their mentors and professors, and other students.  Taking the time to connect with and engage these students will grow appreciation for the non-traditional student and lead to increased diversity and growth in the fisheries profession.  In our vignette, we drew upon our personal experiences as non-traditional students (older, parents, veteran, employed) to discuss some of the triumphs and pitfalls that we encountered while earning our graduate degrees.