Nontraditional Student Organization elects new officers for Spring semester

Tennessee Tech’s Nontraditional Student Organization met Tuesday, Feb. 23 in Southwest Hall to discuss upcoming events and plans for 2016.

“A traditional student is defined as anyone 18 to 24 years old. They’re someone who’s starting college straight out of high school,” said Director of the Interdisciplinary Student Success Center, Jeannie Smith. “A nontraditional student is usually anyone who is typically 25 years or older who may have family and work obligations. Their needs are different from the typical student. They don’t live on campus. They just have different needs than a college student coming straight out of high school.”

New officer positions were elected; President Amy Collier, Vice President Tammy Long, Secretary Tara Bennett, and Student at Large Jeremy Burnsides were chosen for representation on Tech’s campus.

“For me this organization is a way to meet students I can better relate to outside of school, many of us have children and jobs,” said Collier, senior in child development and family relations. “It’s nice to be able to talk about life with someone who really understands the hardships of being a mom in college. I am 26, so I'm older than most students. I have been in college since fall of 2008. I took three semesters off after I had my daughter in 2012 and came back to finish my CDFR Degree.”

Those who participated in Tuesday’s meeting spoke about how comforting it was to find that there were others students like them on Tech’s campus. According to Smith, 12 to 14 percent of Tech’s population consist of those 26 years of age or older.

“There’s this huge push by the state to help find ways to get nontraditional students back into school and help them finish their degrees. For the first time I’ve ever known there’s this kind of support being given to the nontraditional students,” said Smith.

Events are being coordinated within the organization for students to meet and support one another.

 “We’re possibly going to reach out and join forces with the Veterans group on campus to see if they’d like to participate with us to have a family day. The students and their families can bring a potluck dish and get together and have fun,” said Smith.

A food crawl was also mentioned by Long.

“I really like the idea of each major bringing a dish! It’s such a great idea for each major to get together with this,” said Long.

A mentoring program was discussed and, if put into action, would be available for nontraditional students within the organization who would like to talk with students who have been successful in their career paths who were also nontraditional students.

Those who wish to be a part of the organization are encouraged to join.

 “It’s not a lot of work, we don’t ask a lot of our members. We just want to encourage all of the nontraditional students to pop in a meeting and say hi. Having people on campus who you can better relate to makes juggling school, work and life a little less stressful,” said Collier. “I am hoping we can really get this organization off the ground. I am looking forward to having an impact with nontraditional students on campus. I hope we can in some way help every one of them. We have some great plans for this semester, and I hope we keep involvement up and are able to make a difference on campus.”

The next meeting for NTSO will be March 15 at 5 p.m. in Southwest Hall Room 142.