Mississippi Universities Expand Net To Get Nontraditional Students

In his distinctive coat and tie, Corey Moore is often mistaken for a professor walking around Mississippi Valley State University. The 31-year-old’s determined gait around campus illustrates his focus on earning a degree in public administration.

“I found my way to Valley by divine intervention,” Moore says. “I felt I could be a student who could enlighten and help to inspire the more traditional students.”

Schools, public and private, are developing programs to attract students such as Moore. Institutions are recognizing the benefits of having nontraditional students  — classified as students 25 and older — on campus for their leadership and the bottom line. Enrollment of nontraditional students increased 17.8 percent from 1999-2004. The Mississippi College Board said 11,847 nontraditional students were enrolled in the eight state universities last year.

Moore graduated from Clarksdale High in 1992 and joined the Naval Reserve in San Diego. He took courses at Coahoma Community College in 1994-1995 before enrolling at MVSU in 2002. Now Moore is using Pell Grants, student loans and some of his savings to get through college.
At MVSU, more than 44 percent of the university’s undergraduates are nontraditional students. The school has been so successful at attracting nontraditional students that the university built a $17.4 million apartment complex, where Moore lives.

“Many [nontraditional students] are married and have young children, and they can’t live in a dorm,” says Dr. Lester Newman, president of MVSU. “The apartment complex is a tremendous help. We have also made a concerted effort to add more evening and weekend courses.”
Colleges and universities around the state are using similar approaches to attract nontraditional students.

Alcorn State University President Dr. Clinton Bristow Jr. says he will recruit older students when the school offers casino management courses at its Vicksburg and Natchez campuses next year.

Mississippi University for Women student Cindy Moody drives 128 miles round trip to work on her teaching degree at the Columbus school. Her 20-year-old daughter, Courtnee Graham, attends classes with her.
“It’s been hectic, but I will adjust,” says Moody, who works as a substitute teacher. She graduated with her daughter last May at East Central Community College in Decatur. “It’s getting better every day.”

— Associated Press

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