Circumstances beyond an individual’s control can interrupt the pursuit of a college degree. Students who have been away from college for several years face various obstacles. Many often must juggle work and family responsibilities along with classes and homework.
For such nontraditional students who are interested in returning to the academic life of the University, UNC Charlotte provides dedicated staff members to assist them through the Office of Adult Students and Evening Services (OASES).
“In today’s knowledge-based economy, a college education has become increasingly important,” said Janet Daniel, OASES director. “Many students who were unable to complete their degree initially now need to transition into new career fields.”
For more than a decade, UNC Charlotte, through OASES, has instituted a number of programs to assist nontraditional students, usually individuals older than 25, to start or complete their degrees, including the Nontraditional Student Organization, which provides academic and social support; the Adult Mentoring Program for Students, comprised of teams of adult volunteers to advise and assist returning students, and the award-winning 49er Finish Program, an initiative that identifies UNC Charlotte students who have been away from the University for up to 20 years but who had left with enough credits to return with senior-level standing.
– Janet Daniel, OASES director
Through the 49er Finish Program, more than 1,600 former UNC Charlotte students have returned to the University, and 350 plus have completed their degree. While the 49er Finish Program isn’t unique, UNC Charlotte was ahead of the curve nationally to proactively seek out former students and facilitate their return.
“By coming back and graduating, students become more marketable. They are more likely to pursue graduate degrees, and they are better-equipped for a competitive economy where college degrees are becoming essential to win jobs,” Daniel said.
Of course, for some nontraditional students, family obligations and financial constraints are barriers to returning. For the past three years, OASES has used grants from the Bernard Osher Foundation to fund scholarships. The Osher Reentry Scholarships provide valuable assistance to many academically talented nontraditional students who would benefit from completing an undergraduate degree.
“Charlotte is a vibrant metropolis and continues to grow,” Daniel noted. “People from all over the United States have moved to Charlotte to take advantage of the opportunities that the city affords. Some of them may have moved before completing their undergraduate degrees and would greatly benefit from OASES services.”
Pictured: Geraldine Brisbane Crooks, Class of 2009 via the 49er Finish Program