‘Nontrads’ gain a voice on campus

Mackenzie Mathews

Of the 21,100 students walking the Hill, over 4,000 are nontraditional. As of Tuesday, those students have a club based specifically around their needs.

Bowling Green senior William Vest founded the Non-traditional Student Alliance and said he created it to fill a void for a demographic on campus often forgotten about.

“I never felt like an outsider until I came back to college,” Vest said.

That feeling is what inspired him to get the club on its feet.

Vest said it’s meant to be a haven for “nontrads” to meet people with similar experiences and interests, receive help on homework and get involved on campus and in the community.

“We are going to be a doing club, not a do-nothing club,” he said.

According to WKU’s website, a nontraditional student is an undergraduate who is 25 years or older.

The organization will be a community of nontraditional students creating a more traditional college experience with various activities already in the making, Vest said. Nontrads expressed a desire for study groups, movie nights and involvement in intramural groups.

Members may not be the only ones benefitting from the club’s activities, as off- and on-campus philanthropy is a top priority on their agenda.

Some of the ideas for charity opportunities include assisting the unemployed in finding a job, volunteering at Potter’s Children Home and helping traditional students work through real-world issues that they are experiencing for the first time.

Their experience and wisdom is something that they not only plan to use to support each other, but also the campus and community.

However, Vest said the organization has a different definition.

“Age isn’t everything,” he said. “It’s not what defines a nontraditional student.”

Instead, he defined a “nontrad” as someone with a child or a full-time job.

Vest said the organization will not have any dues, a required GPA or course load requirements for membership.

“The way our organization is going to work is going to be very nontraditional,” Vest said.

John Hart, Interim Director of Adult Learner Services, explained that a spring survey revealed that nontraditional students wanted a way to meet other students like themselves, but they could not find the time or the resources because of priorities outside of school.

The Alliance not only gives social opportunities but aids students in making connections with school and the community.

Alvaton sophomore Amy Gibson said she needed to build a larger resume that could compete against those of younger professionals. She said she believes the Alliance is well prepared to help her in that endeavor.

“As a non-traditional (sic) adult learner, it is much harder to make connections on campus that I think most students take for granted,” Gibson said in an email. “Hopefully, between the members of the NTSA and the activities therein, it will open those doors.”