The challenges of nontraditional students


By April Wilson, Contributor

Jeanenne Boll balances many roles. She is a wife, a mother of six, a manager at a grocery store and a full-time student in the College of Education. While exhaustion sets in just thinking about what she must have to accomplish in one day, Ms. Boll is among an estimated 35% of UNO undergraduate students over the age of 25 and an estimated 40.5% who work 30 or more hours per week.

Many return to school after raising their families, others are pursuing degrees that will change their career paths and for others it is a love of learning. Whatever their reason, these students add to the Maverick spirit.

After spending almost 30 years raising her children, who range in age from 16 to 31, Boll returned to school at the age of 47 when she realized that she was not where she thought she would be in life. She said education provides options that you might not otherwise have.

Boll has encountered many challenges along her path to a degree at both school and home.

“I have walked into classes where students thought I was the teacher” she said of some of her classroom experiences. At home she worries about not being home enough for her youngest daughter who is still in high school. However, she said, “(My2011daughter) said she is proud of me.”

Jeanenne Boll’s story is like many others and at UNO. A large portion of the UNO nontraditional student population is enrolled in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service Division of Continuing Studies program, which offers a Bachelor of General Studies specifically to students over the age of 21.

According to the program’s website, the degree has been “awarded to over 22,000 students since 1951.” Only students over the age of 21 can apply for the program, and it allows students to work around their existing lives. Classes are available at the main campus, Offutt Air Force Base and online to fit students needs.

In the fall of 2011, 1,236 students are enrolled in the program with approximately 250 to 300 of those students graduating every calendar year. Most of the students live locally, but the program has students in 26 different states and the District of Columbia.

It is obvious that there are opportunities out there for those of any age. The college experience is special. Not everyone gets this opportunity and it doesn’t matter at what age you complete this goal. Quotes and statistics don’t have to be cited to tell someone that what goes on here at UNO is monumental. And that the pursuit of education is a most wonderful and worthwhile endeavor at any age and in any circumstance.