Matt Wildrick/The Commuter.

Adult Services filling the need for non-traditional students

For many students at Frederick Community College, this semester is not their first. They are not 18-years-old and fresh out of high school. They do not simply go to school and return home for homework. Some are mothers and fathers, others are husbands and wives. They work full-time and part-time jobs, yet some are unemployed or underemployed. They are at least 24, and most of them may not have been in school for years.

In 1981, Adult Services was first implemented at FCC as Project Forward Step. The entire program has taken a step forward since then, as Janice Brown from the office of adult services explains that FCC created the Adult Services program to help those non-traditional students who may be “juggling different lifestyles than general students.”

Whether returning to school or starting school for the first time, a student who works with Adult Services is paired with a single counselor for the entire school year.

“Having one counselor from start to end is reassuring to the student,” Brown said. It creates a “home base, or offers them a point of contact,” she adds.

Students who utilize Adult Services often face different challenges than traditional FCC-goers. Brown says the most common issue her students face is low confidence, “initial confidence … they wonder if they are college material,” they wonder if they will be able to do as well as the other students who are more traditional students. Although students do struggle and have difficulties, Brown shares the best part about working with the non-traditional students is “they are determined to get through, despite their challenges.”

Jennifer Ward, the office manager for Adult Services, talks about the importance of adult students returning to work. She explains a lot of the time, “students are returning to FCC because they may have lost a job and need more experience, or new skills to obtain a better job.” Additionally, Brown explains that going back to school is a “short-term pathway to a better earning,” and in turn a better life for the student and, in many cases, their children as well.

Students that work with Adult Services can receive help with applying to college, registering and picking classes, applying for scholarships, child care vouchers, and gas vouchers. They also offer special meetings and events to help these students along their journey.

Between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, the Adult Services Office hosted “Non-Traditional Student Week.” The week’s events included giveaways and free information. Also offered for free were professional massages to show the group’s support and solidarity.

“We want you to belong here,” Brown said.

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