Archived Story

Program helps non-traditional students navigate college

Published 2:05pm Friday, April 19, 2013

New Options

At the Chilton-Clanton campus, Fulmer, Heather Smith, Julie Emmerich and others on the Jeff State staff assist adults in the New Options program with the college application and entrance process.

The program is designed specifically for men and women ages 25 and up who are interested in starting college for the first time, taking classes to update their workforce skills, obtaining a college degree to land a better job than the one they currently have, or continuing education after being out of school for five years or more.

Attitudinal barriers that New Options helps people overcome include: may be too old to attend, low grades in the past, poor study habits in the past, nervous about taking tests, or unsure of study skills (taking notes, reading comprehension, etc.)

“I think adults are working longer, and retirement ages are going up,” Fulmer said. “So, people see education as a way to get a better job. Research says that education equates to keeping a job, too.”

Fulmer said the average age of students at Jeff State (any campus) is 30.

According to enrollment information from the National Center for Education Statistics, in recent years the percentage increase in the number of students age 25 and over has been larger than the percentage increase in the number of younger students at degree-granting institutions, and this pattern is expected to continue.

Between 2000 and 2010, the enrollment of students under age 25 increased by 34 percent. Enrollment of students 25 and over rose 42 percent during the same period.

From 2010 to 2020, NCES projects a rise of 11 percent in enrollments of students under 25, and a rise of 20 percent in enrollments of students 25 and over.

About 25 students were in the program in Clanton last year, and Fulmer estimates the program is currently serving about 20 people.

New Options is offered at all campuses (Chilton-Clanton, Jefferson, Shelby-Hoover and Pell City).

“This is such a caring environment,” Fulmer said. “We do lots of support. We’re a reference service.”

Those who haven’t taken the ACT test would need to take the Compass Placement Exam in order to be eligible. Acceptance is based on having a high school diploma as defined by the Alabama State Board of Education or a Certificate of High School Equivalency (GED Certificate).

To find out more about New Options, call the toll-free number 1-800-239-5900 ext. 7718.

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