UNO non-traditional student week


By Joe Willard

Few students know the pains of stress and fatigue like a non-traditional student does.

A barrage of responsibilities wears these students down. According to Chandra Gustafson, coordinator of student services for the division of continuing studies at University of Nebraska at Omaha, being a non-traditional student is not based on age alone. Some of these students are single parents or veterans.

Others work full-time or go to school part-time. Sometimes, being a non-traditional student simply means they didn’t go college right away.

Although non-traditional students have many differences, the one thing they probably all have in common is the feeling there isn’t enough time or money.

“The really difficult part about being a non-traditional student is finances,” UNO sophomore Kayleigh Hegarty said. “I have found if I want to well good in school I have to cut back hours at work.”

Last week was Non-Traditional Student Week, a national week of support and recognition for “non-trad” students that happens the first week of November every year.

“It is to appreciate they all have different experiences and are in different places in their lives,” Gustafson said.

Gustafson herself was once a non-trad. She went back to school at 24 as a single mom. One year she took 56 credit hours and worked full-time while raising her child. Her kid had to eat, she said.

One thing non-traditional student week did was help those students with their stressful similarities. One event was a workshop on find-ing time to balance work, school and life. Samantha Ammons, associate professor of sociology, hosted the workshop.

Ammons says there are two negative ways that students cope with stress. One of them is buying time. An example she gave was telling a child “we will do it later,” but never following through.

Another negative coping strategy is forgetting self-care.

“The ideal now is to do enough to keep going,” Ammons said. “We know these things catch up with us.”

Some positive ways to handle the stress of school, work and life are to limit the demands people place on themselves. Another important behavior is finding resources to support ones’ segmentation. Segmentation is when people find dedicated time to do certain activities like school or leisure instead of multi-tasking.

Some of the resources Ammons mentioned were UNO’s counsel-ing services, which are free for students, free campus events that are good for families, and the Academic and Career Development Center. The Academic and Career Development Center was one of four different offices that hosted meet and greets.

D’Antae Potter, an academic and career advisor in the academic and career development center, said the office is designed to help students figure out everything from what jobs to apply for to writing a good resume or being prepared for an interview.

UNO’s Career Connect, a job post-ing service the university offers, posts 30 to 40 new openings every day.

“Companies will contact our office wanting to hire UNO students,” Potter said.

While finding the right job to compliment school is beneficial, Gustafson said the most important thing is to get involved on campus.

Chandra Gustafson can be contacted at 402-554-2370 or

“Students are more successful when they’re engaged on campus,” she said. “I’m more than happy to help. That’s what’s going to make you successful.”


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