On Tuesday the Women’s Study Brown Bag Lunch series explored the challenges facing nontraditional students at Colgate.
Life-Long Learners are Colgate employees who take college classes while working. Colgate provides up to $1,700 each academic year for work-related undergraduate courses at other schools. Employees can also take up to two classes a semester at Colgate for a $20 registration fee per class.
Director of Academic Program & Disability Services Lynn Waldman introduced a panel of three Life-Long Learners.
“[It was] an absolute pleasure and privilege to work with the group,” she said.
Jeannie Kellogg, one of the founders of Life-Long Learners, discussed how she did not finish her undergraduate degree until 36 years after beginning it. Having a family made balancing schoolwork difficult for her.
“It was worth it all the way,” she said.
An issue raised by her experiences was the difference in support she got from degree-holders and non-degree holders. She found that people with college experience were more supportive than those who went straight into a career.
The other members of the panel, Brenda Dutcher and Michael Holobosky, spoke of some of the similar experiences.
“[Going to college as a nontraditional learner] is NOT easy,” Dutcher said. It’s very intimidating when you walk into the classroom for the first time.”
Although all Life-Long Learners expressed the nervousness they felt at beginning a class with students who were at least 10 years younger than they were, they gained self-esteem from the experience.
“I can’t thank Colgate enough for giving me this opportunity,” Holobosky said. “I love education now.”
The panel answered questions from students that ranged from how Colgate supports nontraditional learning to the influence of greater life experiences on classes. Jackie D’Amore co-founded Life-Long Learners with Kellogg.
“Colgate is not geared for the older learner,” she said.
Others in the room responded to that idea.
“[Colgate is] such a traditional school, there is a tighter group network [among traditional
learners,]” she said.
For those who have experienced a mix of traditional and nontraditional learners in a class, the interaction is something special.
“I learn from the students everyday,” Kellogg said.
The traditional Colgate student can also benefit from the experience of sharing a classroom with the Life-Long Learners.
“I think there are a lot of valuable things that can be taught both ways,” senior Cassie Quirindogo said.
One example of a trade in the classroom came from Dutcher, who described how a girl in her first class invited Dutcher to do a group project with her, which led to a life long friendship between the two. Dutcher explained that the student gave her confidence and Dutcher, with two sons and a husband, provided a family away from home for the student.
By the end of the discussion, students present had gained a new insight into
“It provided a really good opportunity to see the different paths one can take to reach one’s goals,” sophomore Julia Gooding said.