College Life as a Nontraditional Business Student

College Life as a Nontraditional College of Business Student

By Samantha Behling, Ashley Moore, Houa Moua, and Chee Xiong

What do you think college life is like as a nontraditional student?  

Many students may have heard the term “nontraditional student,” but may not know exactly what defines a nontraditional student. According to the UW-Eau Claire Nontraditional Student Services’ Web site, a nontraditional student is someone who is married and/or a parent, a military veteran, or is 25 years of age or older with a significant break in his or her education since high school or secondary education.

According to Bonnie Isaacson, Nontraditional Student Advisor, over 800 nontraditional students are currently enrolled at UW-Eau Claire. The majority of nontraditional students decided to attend college to earn a degree for the first time, but a large number are coming back to college for a second degree.

Brendon Williams is a fulltime non-traditional student at UW-Eau Claire who is working toward an accounting major and an Advanced Business Communication certificate. Like the majority of nontraditional students, Williams is attending UW-Eau Claire to earn his first degree.

“After high school I tried college for 1½ years pursuing a computer science degree, but I wasn’t ready. I took time off to work and figure out what it was I really wanted to do. I realized that I had a white collar mind and could not keep working at a blue collar job, so nine years later, I am back to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a CPA,” said Williams.

Like traditional students, many nontraditional students encounter challenges while attending college, such as fitting in or managing school, work, and family. However, Williams explained that he fit in well, and many students do not know he is a nontraditional student. Similar to traditional students, socializing and getting involved on campus helps nontraditional students adapt to college life more easily. He also explained that managing school and work as a nontraditional student is much like any traditional student who wants to do well. Williams said, “You still have to study a lot and try to make time for everything else.”

Since his return, Williams has been studying at UW-Eau Claire for four semesters, in addition to taking summer courses. If everything goes as planned, he will graduate in December 2012. With his accounting degree, he plans to work with his father at Anderson, Hager, and Moe S.C., a full service public accounting and consulting firm in Hayward, WI. His ultimate career goal is to start his own CPA practice and do financial consulting for small companies.

College can be life altering for anyone. Whether a student decides to attend college right after high school or later in life, a degree will always be beneficial. Some advice from Williams is, “College isn’t for everyone. If you need to take time off, do it, then go back, but try to make it work the first time. Life is better with a degree. Most importantly, don’t ever think you can’t go back.”

For more information visit:

  • Nontraditional Student Advisor, Bonnie Isaacson, Schofield Hall 226
  • Nontraditional Student Services Web Site:

Particular study rooms designated for nontraditional students are:

  • Graduate and Nontraditional Student Study Room, McIntyre Library Room 5029
  • Nontraditional Student Lounge, The Oasis, W.R. Davies University Center 127

Samantha Behling Ashley Moore Houa Moua Chee Xiong

From left to right: Samantha Behling is a sophomore management major from Boyceville, WI; Ashley Moore is a senior business administration/spanish for business major from Ashland, WI; Houa Moua is a senior marketing major from Junction City, WI; and Chee Xiong is a senior accounting from Eau Claire, WI. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.

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