Tammy Kothe-Ramsey has more appreciation for her education now than she did 21 years ago.
Kothe-Ramsey, a 46-year-old wife and mother to two young adults, recently decided to return her attention to education so she could pursue a career in psychology. Kothe-Ramsey falls outside the age range of a typical college student, yet the number of adults enrolling at Texas State to broaden employment opportunities is rising.
The term “non-traditional student” offers an open interpretation, Kothe-Ramsey said. There has been an increase in the number of Texas State students over the age of 30 during the past five years. There were 1,593 students at least 30 years old enrolled in fall 2007, while 2,033 of the same age group were enrolled in fall 2012, according to Institutional Research.
Joe Meyer, director of Institutional Research, said the rise in non-traditional student enrollment could be attributed to the downturn in the economy a few years ago. Economic conditions caused many adults to return to higher education in the hopes of becoming more employable.
Kothe-Ramsey attended a business college after graduating from high school, but ended up withdrawing. Many of her friends at the time were not enrolled in college and were into a partying lifestyle, she said. Kothe-Ramsey would have been more inclined to finish the degree early on had she been more involved with the campus and classwork.
As the vice president of the Non-Traditional Student Organization, Kothe-Ramsey followed the trend of many older students and returned to school to increase job prospects, specifically in the field of psychology.
Kothe-Ramsey became interested in becoming a licensed professional counselor after her divorce and child custody case lawyer recommended she see a forensic psychologist years ago.
“It’s kind of funny. As a younger person, I wasn’t quite disciplined enough and let myself slip, but then as a more mature adult, I guess I take more pride in what I want to do,” Kothe-Ramsey said. “I have a daughter who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. So, in order to understand what she is going through better, psychology really hit home with me.”
Kothe-Ramsey completed her basic degree requirements at San Antonio College. She was inspired to transfer to Texas State in fall 2011 after meeting Shirley Ogletree, psychology professor.
Ogletree said Kothe-Ramsey, along with many other non-traditional students, greatly contributes to the university atmosphere by being reliable and showing a willingness to work hard in the classroom.
Joellen Coryell, Department of Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education and School of Psychology assistant professor, said the term “non-traditional student” is relatively inclusive toward a variety of factors. These factors include age and life experience. Coryell has noticed a trend at Texas State and other universities of devoting more attention to better understanding adult learners regarding research in the field and teaching practices.
Coryell said teaching practices used for adult learners are effective for all age groups. In some situations, instructors must rethink their methods to better accommodate older non-traditional students.
Kothe-Ramsey is expected to graduate in May and recommends other non-traditional students avoid dropping their entire class schedules when life interferes with school.
“Times will always get difficult where you think you can’t handle it, and if it does become too much, you’ve got to take care of yourself first,” Kothe-Ramsey said. “But if there’s any way possible to keep (enrolled in) the one (class) and keep your dream alive, then keep going.”