From Traditional to Non-Traditional: My Path to College

Upon my graduation from high school, I took the traditional path of enrolling in a 4-year university the next fall and started my bachelor’s degree at UTSA. However, during the spring semester of my sophomore year, I became pregnant with my daughter. I decided to move back to my hometown of Dallas, TX, and transfer to Texas Woman’s University to finish my degree. From that point forward, I became a “non-traditional student.” I commuted to campus, took care of a small child, worked part-time, and took many of my classes online. I didn’t have time to join on-campus activities, and meeting with my advisor and other student service offices had to work around my tight schedule. 

During this time, I had a fantastic support system that allowed me to continue my studies and eventually graduate with a BS in Health Studies from TWU. Family would babysit so I could study and go to class. I know that I was lucky to have people willing to sacrifice their own time so that I could finish what I started. I graduated a year and a half later than I was supposed to, but I did it! Beyond the bachelor’s degree, I have been able to continue counting on a strong support system to complete a master’s degree while being a parent and working. 

Being able to work with non-traditional students as part of my work with SAEP, I see the struggles I myself faced as an adult learner trying to balance school with all of the other responsibilities involved.


Elizabeth Velarde

Lead College Access and Success Advisor for Upgrade