I have tutored "thirty-something" students in the past, though I haven't seen quite as many in the CTL this semester (maybe they just aren't coming to me). Teaching these students through tutoring becomes complicated on many levels, due to their family situations at home (medical issues have become problematic in the past with the students I have had) or the age difference resulting in a lack of respect and/or doubt over the tutor's credibility (due to the 10+ years age difference). Whatever the case, 30-something students deserve just as much attention as kids fresh out of high school, and their priorities are often the same, so besides working around the extra issues, the tutoring remains the same.
“Thirty-Something” StudentsI chose this to write about this section because I am a ‘thirty-something”. I actually came to the writing center the last semester before I graduated from my undergraduate studies. I admit, I could have made better use of the CTL’s resources. I look back and I clearly see my reluctance to make better use of the CTL as arising from my feelings of awkwardness of being a non-traditional student. I think we are socialized to understand the student-teacher relationship as one in which the teacher is older and the student is younger. As the age disparity between my teachers and me has narrowed over the years, I have had to adapt my model of what can potentially comprise a teacher-student relationship. As an undergraduate, it took me a bit of adjusting to the fact that several of my professors were closer to my age cohort than many of my class mates. Extending this to a student/tutor-student/tutee relationship was more difficult for me. Something about age makes it humbling to go to those younger than us for help. This probably varies quite a bit from person to person. Nevertheless, I think we need to be aware of the potential reluctance arising from age differentials.
This article was engaging for me because I too have encountered "non-traditional" students while working at the CTL. There is certainly no "standard" approach to working with these students. They--like all students---are all unique in their prior experience and their concerns about their writing. I have found working with older students to be very rewarding because the one thing they almost all have in common is that they have returned to higher education by choice. They are not compelled to be there based on some sort of empty need to satisfy their parents wishes--on the contrary they have taken a pro-active step towards enriching their life. These older students do, as Hayes-Burton pointed out, often have antiquated grammar rules stuck in there conscious minds which often have to be dispelled in order to assure them freedom to learn how to think academically while not being bound to comma rules and other grammar concerns.Overall--I would encourage tutors and TA's to look forward to working with "older" students. They are a very rewarding group. I think they appreciate what we do on a level the more traditional undergrads have yet to understand.
I like how Hanes-Burton explains the strengths of greater organization and life skills for nontraditional students. I think it highlights that all students (to a certain extent) bring unique assets as well as obstacles to the writing center. Some of these pluses or minuses might be more obvious than others, and some assets and some obstacles can be grouped together (such as the set that students with 15 years in the job force are likely to have), but regardless of the type it is the job of the tutor to locate the assets and work with the obstacles.