Scholarship Application Tips For Non-traditional Student

Scholarship Application Tips For Non-traditional Student

Are you a student with a non-traditional academic path seeking financial support for your education? You’re in good company. Numerous individuals choose to resume their education later in life or start a new academic chapter after a hiatus. Nonetheless, funding one’s education can pose a considerable obstacle for non-traditional students. This blog post delves into the realm of grants designed for such students and offers valuable insights on how to successfully obtain them.

As a mature student with a nontraditional academic path, investing in further education can pose a substantial financial commitment. While scholarships can alleviate the financial strain, initiating your search may prove challenging. Here are some pointers for adult learners in pursuit of scholarships:

What does the term “Nontraditional Student” mean?

When it comes to pursuing higher education, students follow diverse routes. The conventional educational trajectory, as commonly perceived, involves students completing high school and then immediately enrolling in a full-time, two- or four-year undergraduate program. While this conventional route is widespread, it is not the only one.

There are various ways in which students may diverge from this standard educational path, categorizing them as nontraditional students.

For certain individuals, being a nontraditional student entails:

  • Initiating a degree post high school and subsequently discontinuing their program
  • Returning to college later in life for further education

Nontraditional students, a category encompassing online learners and those who transfer between institutions during their studies, are on the rise in higher education. This classification also includes low-income individuals, military veterans, parents, and those working full-time while pursuing their degrees. While each nontraditional student group faces unique challenges, choosing an unconventional college path does not imply an inability to thrive in the academic environment.

The number of nontraditional students is expected to increase as more individuals deviate from societal norms regarding higher education. Despite the potential challenges, being a nontraditional student should not be disheartening; rather, it can serve as motivation. Some educational institutions offer programs tailored to the specific needs of nontraditional students, and there is a growing awareness of diverse educational journeys.

The mentioned categories of nontraditional students serve as just a sample, reflecting the diverse spectrum of student experiences. Numerous individuals within these categories are presently enrolled in or contemplating various college courses.

While acknowledging the potential challenges faced by nontraditional students, it’s crucial to recognize that being one does not inherently hinder success; instead, it offers a distinctive perspective.

Beyond impacting college courses, scholarships, and job applications, the unconventional aspects of students’ educational journeys can actually serve as opportunities for positive differentiation. Nontraditional students may stand out in a favorable light, presenting unique possibilities. Apart from scholarships, there are also grants, internships, fellowships, and organizations that offer tangible support and connections for nontraditional students.

Explore further to understand how to secure funding through these scholarships and opportunities, optimize your time within the college system, and manage educational costs. The vision of inclusive education is championed by many nontraditional students, reshaping perceptions of postsecondary education.

Scholarship Opportunities For Higher Education:

Numerous online platforms serve as scholarship search engines, enabling students to input details such as their degree type, demographics, and financial goals in order to be matched with suitable scholarships.

Alternatively, some websites provide extensive lists of scholarships, complete with eligibility criteria and monetary awards. Beyond these online resources, students can discover scholarship opportunities by exploring options from local businesses, reaching out to colleges directly, or investigating offerings from high schools, churches, community centers, and other local organizations.

Individual colleges typically offer both merit-based and need-based scholarships, underscoring the importance of staying informed about available opportunities.

It is advisable for students to focus on creating high-quality applications for scholarships that align with their goals, rather than submitting numerous applications that may be less impressive. Researching various scholarship categories, including those designed for nontraditional students and those that match students’ hobbies, interests, and backgrounds, is crucial.

Taking advantage of available financial resources can streamline the funding application process, especially with some practice.

Scholarship Opportunities For Individuals Pursuing Online Education:

A growing number of institutions are providing financial aid opportunities for students opting for online higher education., for instance, extends a $1,000 Online Undergraduate Scholarship and a $1,000 Online Graduate Scholarship to those engaging in distance education. Colorado State University Global and similar online campuses also present a range of scholarships for their virtual learners.

The Get Educated scholarship, aiming to alleviate the financial burden of online education, grants $1,000 scholarships to eligible college students. Women pursuing an online degree can explore specialized options like the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business scholarships, which are available to online applicants in varying amounts.

Scholarship Opportunities For Adults Returning To College:

Scholarships designed for adult learners aim to assist older individuals in either entering or returning to the college environment.

These scholarships are inclusive and cater to students from diverse backgrounds, offering opportunities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels for both online and on-campus learning.

One example is the $1,000 Adult Learner Scholarship, specifically targeting adults returning to college. Another noteworthy option is the Adult Students in Scholastic Transition Scholarships, which annually awards approximately half a million dollars in scholarship funds ranging from $250 to $2,500 to older college students.

The Adult Skills Education Program (ASEP) provides a $1,000 scholarship for adult students aged 19 and over enrolled in participating colleges.

For women and non-binary individuals aged over 35 with low income, the Jeannette Rankin National Scholar Grant offers $2,000 awards for those enrolled in technical or vocational college programs. Working parents pursuing college education may find the Working Parent College Scholarship Award Program beneficial, offering successful applicants $1,000 to alleviate education costs, with an essay submission requirement.

Veterans, parents, full-time workers, immigrants, and individuals from low-income backgrounds are encouraged to explore these opportunities. also offers a $1,000 Scholarship for Nontraditional Students currently enrolled in an accredited college or university, available to U.S. citizens, including graduating high school seniors.

Scholarship Opportunities For Students Transferring From One Educational Institution To Another:

As mentioned earlier, it can be financially advantageous for students to acquire credits at a more affordable institution initially and subsequently transfer to a more prestigious college. Transfer students, categorized as nontraditional, often qualify for various scholarships.

Scholarships designed for transfer students, such as the $1,000 Scholarship for Transfer Students, play a crucial role in easing the transition between schools, which can be challenging for some individuals.

The University of Southern Alabama provides several scholarships specifically for students transferring from other institutions.

Whitworth University also offers scholarships tailored for transfer students, ranging from $17,000 to $25,000 annually, effectively covering tuition costs.

Similarly, Augustana College in Illinois extends transfer student scholarships ranging from $18,000 to $25,000, depending on the academic achievements of the students.

Scholarship Application Tips For Non-traditional Student

Mastering the art of successfully applying for scholarships is a gradual process that demands dedication. Students are advised to approach the application process with utmost seriousness and be well-versed in the deadlines for all their scholarship opportunities.

Treating scholarship applications as one would a school course or an extracurricular activity proves beneficial. Allocating a designated time each day or week to tackle applications and explore new scholarship options is a prudent strategy.

Timely submission and meticulous adherence to application instructions are imperative.

For many scholarships, students are typically required to submit a comprehensive resume emphasizing academic accomplishments and career objectives, detailing past community service, showcasing special skills, and enumerating work experience.

Numerous online resources are available to assist students in creating an optimal resume for scholarship applications. However, it is crucial for students to customize their information to align with the specific requirements of each scholarship.

Nontraditional students can leverage their unique backgrounds when applying for scholarships, particularly those that require essays explaining the significance of the award and how they distinguish themselves from other candidates. Unconventional college experiences or backgrounds can be advantageous in this context.

Despite similarities in scholarship requirements, it is essential to compose a distinct essay for each application, ensuring clarity and careful editing before submission. Emphasizing passion for a particular field of study or education in general can enhance the likelihood of success.

Prior to submission, students should meticulously review their applications to ensure no sections are left blank and no errors are present.

While the scholarship application process may pose challenges, perseverance is key, as there are suitable scholarships for everyone, and diligence will ultimately yield positive results.


Navigating the path of a nontraditional student may pose challenges, but for many, it proves to be a beneficial approach to higher education. The prevalence of nontraditional education is on the rise, indicating that those charting their unique courses are part of a growing community. Whether one is a parent, a veteran, an online or transfer student, an adult learner, or a full-time worker hailing from a low-income background, these diverse experiences can enhance the college journey rather than hinder it. Exploring innovative funding options and taking advantage of institutions offering flexible credit options can significantly enhance the affordability and positivity of the college experience, especially with increasing financial support and resources for nontraditional students. Nontraditional students contribute to the richness of the educational landscape, bringing in fresh perspectives and making them invaluable members of the educational community.


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