Center helps students feel ‘traditional’ at Iowa State

Kim Claussen

Nontraditional students at Iowa State make the transition into college life a little less stressful, thanks to the support given to them by the Off-Campus and Adult Student Services program.

Rob Wiese, program director for Off-Campus and Adult Student Services, said the office opened in the early 1980s because of an increase in the number of nontraditional students enrolled at Iowa State.

“The university classifies nontraditional as a student that is 25 or older, but we serve anyone who doesn’t fit the stereotype of a traditional student — for instance, [a student] with children,” Wiese said.

Off-Campus and Adult Student Services was created to serve the special needs of nontraditional students.

“Typically, [the students] seek us out a semester or two before they come back to ask us about classes or finances or other concerns,” Wiese said.

The staff members try to help nontraditional students balance academics and their personal lives. The office gives students information and advice on issues such as finances and childcare, and the students are able to attend special FAFSA (Federal Application for Free Student Aid) workshops and career seminars, Wiese said.

Sherry Corbett, nontraditional junior in elementary education, said she heard about the program from family members who work on campus.

“When I decided to return to school, I wanted to use everything that was made available to me, so I contacted them,” she said.

Corbett said everyone on campus, especially the people at Off-Campus and Adult Student Services, has been willing to listen to her questions and concerns.

“I really worry about balancing school with my children and spending quality time with both,” she said.

Off-Campus and Adult Student Services also helps to ease students’ tension about returning to school.

“Now I am all right, but at first I was in tears,” said Brenda LaGrone, nontraditional senior in liberal arts and sciences.

Many nontraditional students agree that a major life change is what caused them to return to school.

“A lot of coming back to school this time has been about doing something for me. I want to be able to provide for my children,” Corbett said.

Wiese said he enjoys working with the students who come into the office.

“Nontraditional students are a great asset to the university because they are truly able to appreciate their education, and the professors enjoy the life experience that they bring into the classroom,” he said.