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Beth Loeper

Loeper, B. (2003, May). Stress, social support and the nontraditional student: A qualitative study of the nontraditional student at St. Mary's College of Maryland.
Mentor: Dr. Janet Kosarych-Coy

Abstract

There is a dramatic rise in the number of nontraditional students, over 24 years of age, entering colleges and universities. The nontraditional student is often married, with children and/or a job. Many of these more mature students confront stress and strain related to multiple roles, student demands, financial obligations, and nonconformist peer status. Research has demonstrated that social support may buffer the stress encountered by the nontraditional student. In this qualitative study, 10 nontraditional students attending a small public honors college were interviewed about their college experiences. Results indicated experiences varied among the participants by age and gender. Married females with children reported the most stress related to multiple roles, and the least amount of family support. Students closer to the traditional age reported stress related to their student status, but not multiple roles. They also indicated the greatest amount of social support. Males reported more family support than females, and the least amount of stress related to the number of roles. A social support network consisting of family, peer, and institutional support may increase the successful completion of degree requirements by the nontraditional student, but these networks are not readily available to most nontraditional students interviewed in this report.


Read the paper (download the pdf)