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The nontraditional approach to college success

WSU Student Service Center Ogden Campus (Robert Lewis / The Signpost)
WSU Student Service Center Ogden Campus (Robert Lewis / The Signpost)

Higher education is important to nontraditional students, but with other big priorities in their lives, such as marriage or children, making time for and having the income to finish school can be difficult. The Weber State University Nontraditional Student Center works with students to bridge that divide.

With locations at the Ogden and Davis campuses, the NSC provides scholarships for students who are veterans, over the age of 25, have a spouse or committed partner, are divorced or widowed and/or are a parent.

The center helps students with financial aid applications, child care, tutoring, learning skills for academic success and getting involved in extracurricular activities and clubs at WSU.

According to the NSC’s website, 56% of students at Weber State University are considered nontraditional.

The NSC was created for students who didn’t go to college right out of high school and for those who are returning students, and WSU has specialized scholarships provided for students who qualify as a nontraditional student.

There are six different scholarships for nontraditional students, and each has different requirements. For example, the Mike and Heather Loughton Scholarship requires the applicant to be enrolled in the College of Science, be a single parent who shows financial need and have a GPA of at least 2.5.

Some of the scholarship applications require students to write an essay explaining why they need the extra help in paying for school and to obtain a letter of recommendation.

“It’s a little bit of extra effort, but for $500 to $1,000? It’s worth it,” Trisha Beckstead, lead peer mentor at the Davis Campus NSC, said.

Beckstead was a nontraditional student herself when she attended college, and she said one of her favorite things the NSC offers is their outreach program. She said nontraditional students often prioritize their family and home life before school, which can leave them feeling disconnected from the school community. However, the NSC gave her a sense of community on campus when she wasn’t sure how to become involved.

“I wouldn’t have done half of the things I’ve wanted to if I hadn’t been on the committee,” Beckstead said. “One of my jobs was sitting at a booth to promote on campus, and that was hard for me. But that was also my favorite because they help me and I get to help them.”

One of the problems nontraditional students may run into is that their high school transcripts are not valid anymore, so not all of the traditional scholarships and financial aid they need are readily accessible to them. However, with the help of the NSC, nontraditional students are provided with scholarships designed to make it easier for them to afford their classes.

In past years, Beckstead said the scholarships the center provides don’t always get used. She encouraged those who need financial aid to look into the scholarships to ensure the money goes to those in need.

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