» By LORI PERKINS – lperkins@my.apsu.edu

Today’s average college student is not the person who graduates high school at 18 and then immediately leaves home to attend college. Colleges have seen a large growth in nontraditional students enrollment. APSU’s Institutional Research and Effectiveness defines a NTS as an undergraduate at least 25-years old. APSU’s NTS makes up 42 percent of the population.

Even with the NTS percentage, for some who opt for the classroom rather online, they can sometimes feel out of place.

“I didn’t feel like I belonged [when I first started], still don’t completely, but it’s getting there,” said Alyssa Peak. “A lot of times, unless you make friends, you’re looked at like that’s another old lady in the class.”

Nontraditional students believe they may add positive involvement in the classroom because of their experience.

“We ask questions that the traditional students may not know to ask, we’re more bold,” Peak said.

June Knight, President of Nontraditional Student Society and communications graduate student, said she formed to help NTS feel more comfortable at school after she “heard the cry” from them asking for their own honor society.

As a result, she became the founding president of Alpha Sigma Lambda. Knight is also working on establishing a club for NTS to network and develop “a unified voice.”

Knight knows the struggles that can come with being a nontraditional student. She raised three children while earning her degree at APSU.

“It’s not easy for a mother, father, wife or husband to focus on themselves and their future because their top priority is their family’s,” Knight said. “Our natural instinct is to put our family first when our children see us fulfilling our dreams, it encourages them to fight for theirs.”

In 2012, nontraditional students will have events such as Family Night. Family Nights will start Jan. 17, and will be held in MUC room 308.

Parents can bring their families and interact with other families and have fun. In February, there will be a Valentine’s Day event in the MUC, room 308, and on April 14, 2012, the Graduated Student Network and NTSS will host a Governor’s Ball for students, faculty, staff and guests, which will be “a red carpet affair” at the Memorial Health building.

Free ballroom dancing lessons will be available at the Foy for participants who have purchased a ticket which are on sale now.

“I want students to grasp this college experience and to recognize they are here for such a time as this Knight said. “Obviously, they are in school to fulfill their dreams, and we need to come together to help each other and to increase other nontraditional students college experience get involved, and leave a legacy.”

For more information about NTSS, contact Knight at knightj@apsu.edu. For the Governor’s Ball ticket information, email gsn@apsu.edu. TAS