Empowering The Non-Traditional College Student And Bridging The Digital Divide

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Lindsey M. Jesnek


Non-Traditional Student, Computer Competency, Placement Testing, Digital Divide, Community College, Unemployment, Enrollment Increase


Non-traditional student enrollment, especially at community colleges, has markedly risen in the last ten years due to national unemployment rates, the current economic climate, and employer demand for computer-literate employees. While university instructors struggle to constantly adapt their course materials to incorporate updates in software modules, various online learning systems, and consumer gadgets, they must also troubleshoot the obstacles inherent in their changing class rosters. Functioning under the definition of non-traditional as students over the age of 25 who are often first-generation college enrollees, displaced from their previous careers due unforeseen layoffs, or desperate to update their rum by earning an advanced certification or degree in order to ensure job security, this paper examines the lagging response of higher education institutions to appropriately manage the widening digital divide. The clear dissonance between typical non-traditional student computer competency and typical traditional student computer competency specifically informs this examination. In response to the amalgamated complications revealed in the non-traditional students charge to function successfully within a technologically-driven university environment, practical application strategies in the form of pre-enrollment computer competency placement testing and the implementation of required, degree-credit introductory computer courses must be established as a national initiative in order to formalize the concerted effort needed to encourage the overall academic success of non-traditional students nationwide.


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