The non-traditional student, often an older student with a career or a family, or both, has become a strong presence on American university campuses over the past thirty years. Non-traditional students must meet the same standards as all students, but, often, because they are only attending part-time, they will take more time to complete their degree requirements.
Unlike the lives of many ‘traditional’ Rutgers students, those of non-traditional students will probably not be centered around the university. Their schoolwork is important to them, but they are equally committed to their jobs and families. This is not to suggest that they are less interested in their education; for the most part, they are dedicated and demanding students, often more actively involved in their education than other students. In many ways, they are closer to graduate students in their dedication and commitment than to most undergraduates.
Many have jobs that have accustomed them to carrying out assignments independently. This experience may make them more demanding as students, less tolerant of wasted class time, poorly-prepared lectures, and careless grading. Changing requirements, policies, or due dates mid-semester, while never a good idea, could cause severe hardships for these students whose time is necessarily carefully budgeted. Always be clear with your classes about requirements, whether work is voluntary or required, extra or no credit.
Your policies on deadlines and attendance may have to be more flexible than is usual. A student may have to travel occasionally for her job. A sick child may prevent another from completing his paper. All the work, of course, must be completed, but deadlines should not be totally inflexible.
Because non-traditional students often have a much wider range of experience than traditional students, classes with these students are often livelier and more challenging to you as a teacher than those with only traditional undergraduates.