Return to Learn: Universities Offer Unique Programs to Help Non-Traditional Students

Few college students can claim the title of “grandmother,” but MSU-Billings student Allison Cash can. The 51-year-old is now returning to the classroom after 33 years upon realizing that a degree was the one thing standing between her and a new job.

It wasn’t long after the start of her first semester back that Allison became aware of the many questions she had – how to find a building, where to go for help, how to use a computer, etc. 33 years away from the classroom is a long time, but fortunately for Allison, the smart minds at MSU-Billings (an institution that delivers DSST exams) are well aware of this. That’s why they’ve put together a free seminar for non-traditional students called “Return to Learn.”

Kelly Buck, director of the group that organizes these seminars, says of the Return to Learn program: “The college is here to help students. We want to support them so they can be successful.”

40% of MSU-Billings’ students are considered non-traditional students. According to Buck, 97% of those who complete the free program go on to complete their second year of college or further. When one considers the challenges that non-traditional students must overcome in order to earn a degree, this statistic is no small feat.

Programs like Return to Learn can make college significantly easier for students like Allison, who have been out of the classroom for 10, 20, or 30+ years. Adult learners who take advantage of DSST tests (formerly known as the DANTES exam) in addition to new and innovative programs like these are turning their dreams of earning a college degree into reality. But why doesn’t MSU accept DSST exams for credit? There are still a few institutions that offer our exams at their college campus but they don’t necessarily award college credit for it. MSU’s Return to Learn students can benefit from DSST tests as a form of prior learning assessment. We are willing to bet that Allison has valuable knowledge acquired in the 33 years she’s been out in the workplace. She could very well prove her knowledge with credit by examination. With 38 unique subjects exams offered at just $80 per test (plus a sitting fee), students of any age can get on the fast track to graduation. Does your university offer programs to help non-traditional students adjust to college life? Are you a MSU student and would like to use credit by examination to bypass courses you know well? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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