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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Nontraditional Students: Understanding and Meeting their Needs in the Anthropology Classroom

  • Author(s): Tamir, Orit
  • Taylor, Nicole
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

In light of the fact that nontraditional students (those age 25 years or older) outnumber traditional students on many US college campuses, it is important to understand their needs and experiences in higher education. A key characteristic distinguishing nontraditional students from traditional-aged college students is the high likelihood that they are juggling multiple competing demands and stressors, including parenthood, work, marriage, and financial responsibility. The findings presented here are part of a larger study that included in-depth interviews with 25 nontraditional undergraduate students at New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU or Highlands). This article highlights the narratives of five of these nontraditional students to illustrate the range of experiences that emerged across the sample. The authors reflect on how learning these narratives has influenced their personal approaches to teaching and engaging with nontraditional students and provide strategies for supporting nontraditional students in the anthropology classroom.

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