Non-traditional students convey conventional wisdom

For many Florida A&M University students, their college career consists of four years, graduation and then the destruction of all textbooks, No. 2 pencils and anything else affiliated with the word “school.”

Some students don’t feel the same.

There are many students who appreciate the ability to be in college well beyond the traditional years.

“Learning is a lifelong thing, it helps to keep you active,” said Rex Newman, a 45-year-old from Tampa.

Newman has been taking journalism courses off and on for the last 15 years, and she plans to continue well into his golden years. While he was working on his bachelor’s degree in English at the University of South Florida, his attitude was different, but his desire for knowledge never faded.

“School becomes more important as you get older. When I was young, I didn’t care about school,” Newman said. “I was there to party.”

Although he spent many of his nights partying, in the daytime he was in class. As a student at USF, Newman said he always noticed the older students, and “thought it was kind of cool” that they were there.

According to, close to 21 percent of Rattlers are over the age of 25 and are considered non-traditional students.

Henry L. Kirby, Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, said that compared to the other 80 percent of students, they are spotted less on the Set and more in the classroom.

Kirby also said the non-traditional students, “stay off-campus, have families, have jobs and only come on campus to go to class and go to the library.”

Juggling school, work and home is a tough task for some non-traditional students.

Angela Davis, a 33-year-old from Indianapolis, returned to school after dropping out in 1996.

Davis said the transition was not an easy one for her.

“It’s a lot different because when I first started back it’s like… you forgot how to spell,” Davis said.

The senior criminal justice student said today she is wiser than when she left college.

She also said she has some regrets.

“Things would have been different. Like today, I could have been a professor,” Davis said. “Now, I’m in a classroom full of … noise.”

Davis advised younger students to make use of opportunities in life.

“When you get out of high school, do something with yourself. I don’t care how spoiled you are, or what you’ve been through or whatever. The chance is there, and you need to do something with your life.”

Contact Raina Mcleod at