Non-traditional students flock to business, sociology and physics

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 at 6:47 PM

Interwoven within the campus fabric of nearly 6,000 students are those that don’t immediately come to mind when you picture a college campus: the non-traditional/adult students who have returned to school to either begin college for the first time, or to work on reinventing their career goals. Non-traditional, or adult students, are defined by the Edinboro University Office for Adult and Transfer Students as students who are 25 years of age or older, have legal dependents, are a veteran of the armed forces, are independent for financial aid reasons, or who work full time.  

These students, according to statistics provided by the Edinboro University Office of Institutional Research (OIR), are 1,428 in number, making up 23.8 percent of the student body. The Spectator decided to take a look at which departments on campus are attracting adult students, what makes those programs attractive and how they are keeping students in the program. This study focuses on the top three departments as indicated by research collected by OIR. 

Business Administration and Economics (70):  

Many students are attracted to the business department because of the doors that a degree in business can open, according to Dr. Michael Engdahl who is the chair of the department.  

“Many of our (non-traditional) students are either coming to college for the first time, or coming back for their first bachelor,” Engdahl said.  

Thomas Lytle, who is 30 years old and about to complete his degree in business, said that he chose the department because of his previous work experience. “I was already familiar with business given my background in management, so I thought that business was a good choice.”  

Engdahl explained that the business department tries to make as many accommodations as possible for students, non-traditional or not, by, “Offering classes online, and if they are in person, offering a ‘M/W/F’ and a ‘T/TH’ option for the classes if there are multiple sections of the course.”  

Lytle echoed that sentiment, saying that he “never had any trouble scheduling classes.” Lytle further stated that a large part of his success in the department was due to the faculty and staff who made his transition easier. “The professors are great and whenever I had any difficulties, they were able to help me out.”  

Sociology (36):  

Adam Sidun, a non-traditional sociology major, had this to say about his choice in degree, “The better question is, why not sociology?”  

The sociology department came in second with 36 non-traditional students who are a part of the program. Sidun, who is a junior, said that a large part of his decision to pursue a degree in sociology was due to the support of his professors. “Whenever I needed assistance, my professors supported me; they know that children and medical issues pose extra challenges,” he said.  

Physics and Nursing (35): 

The physics department and nursing department tied for third for non-traditional students.  

“Most of the non-traditional students we have are majoring in our technology programs, either the AAS in Electric Utilities (EUT), the AET in Manufacturing Engineering Technology (MET), or [the] BS in Industrial and Engineering Administration (IdEA) programs,” said chair of the physics department, Dr. Richard Lloyd.  

According to Dr. Peter Kuvshinikov, who oversees students in the MET and IdEA programs, most students who are pursuing a physics degree have worked for local manufacturing shops and are continuing their education, rather than starting a new career path.  

Non-traditional students are overseen by the Office of Adult and Transfer Student Services. The office helps with the transition into college and in helping students acquire life experience credits that can cut their degree completion time. At Porreco, students work closely with Dr. Carol Gleichsner, and here at main campus they work with Philomena Gill.  

Something many non-traditional students echoed was the immense benefit of life credits. Life credits are credits granted by the university towards a student’s degree upon approval by the American Council of Education. Credits are based on review of the work completed by non-traditional students, prior to starting post-secondary education.   

“I came to Edinboro with a dozen credits from several other universities, and a stack of credits that the American Council on Education determined I had earned through 20 years of advanced technical military training. In addition, I had a fist full of credits that I had earned through CLEP testing.  I would advise anyone who attends college for more than just a diploma to investigate CLEP testing. By checking off a few credits here and there, you can schedule more of your time to explore side interests while pursuing your main goal,” said Sidun.  

Lytle also talked about the impact of life credits on his degree completion time. “I was able to earn about 12 life experience credits because of the work I had done prior to starting college.” 

Shayma Musa can be reached at

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