hyllis Bunn began her walk to class quickly, but she slowed with each step. Stu- dents pushed past in thei
ush, in raincoats and flip flops, swinging wide-mouth water bottles and low-hanging backpacks, chattering away on cell phones. "I find myself, as I'm walking to class, bogged down with thoughts. Did I take the clothes out of the dryer? Did I get Daniel's ocks ready - because he's got these favorite socks; he plays on the basketball team for Carolina Friends School - did I wash and dry his socks for the game tonight?You know, did I take something out o cook? Oh God, why am I doing this? And tlle more I think, the slower I walk. It's like pulling a wagon behind me, full ofstuff, heavy rocks, and all it is, I call it my cares, the cares oflife just dragging me down. And when I get to class, it's like I can relax." Bunn is a minority student on campus, in a major way. She's one of the 594 non- traditional students who last year made up just 4 percent ofUNC's full-time under- graduate population - a group that escapes generalization, a group that often escapes notice, a group whose very name means to exist outside the norm. Unlike other minorities, however, nontraditional students tend to be individuals who just don't have tinle to belong to any group. "I feel more like a minority than I've ver felt," Bunn noted. "It's not because of my color; it's because of my age." Bunn is 48 and a senior at Carolina. The cares she carries with her to class each day include an aging mother who is recovering from cancer; a husband who has diabetes and more than 30 years' experience in the foundering field of manufacturing, where he has been laid off twice; two sons who are still at home - one working part time and studying at N.e. State and the other a rising high school senior, striving on the basketball court and in the classroom. ''I'm the only one in my family that finished high school; I'm the only one in my family - because I intend to graduate this summer - that has finished college, nobody else has," Bunn explained. "I saw
how my family did.... [ didn't want this
for my kids."
The first day of school at Carolina:
Bunn was a wife, mother, fonner telephone
operator and waitress. Margaret Mitchell
was a wife and mother. Maria Petsiavas was
a bartender and former model. Roland
Siverson ' 96 was a
and general contrac-
tor. And Milton
Cooke was a grand-
father, father and for-
returning to school
vary, but talk to
crowd and you'll find that "student" is just
one of their many roles. Yet student is
about the only role that Carolina recog-
nizes among its undergraduates.
a little easier to older students, said Henry
Frierson, a professor of education at UNe.
It's ideal if adults can learn interactively
in a classroom with other adult students,
said Frierson, who taught a class at UNC
Adults can get
that experience at
UNC through the
Willianl and Ida Fri-
Education Center, in
about 30 evening classes geared toward
part-time students - but they can't get
that degree. For that, they apply to the
College of Arts and Sciences or the indi-
vidual schools that interest them and
become full-time students. Most classes
taken through the Friday Center are day-
time classes with traditional students. About
400 students 24 and older were enrolled as
part-time students last fall; 594 were full
time. But even so - that is still 1,029 older
students out ofmore than 16,500.
Boxill, who is associate chair of the phi-
losophy department, tries to make nontradi-
tional students feel accepted, sometimes let-
ting older students franle the discussion or
checking in with them over the phone.
Boxill herself was once a nontraditional stu-
dent. She couldn't afford to go to college
after high school so she joined the Women's
Air Force Band. When she did go to col-
lege, she was 26 and afraid to ask questions.
"I did feel marginalized, but I might have
self-marginalized," she said, because of her
discomfort approaching professors. Now, she
said, "I want to be able to be the one to
reach out to them and not vice versa."
In this regard Margaret Mitchell, who
also took Boxill's sports ethics class, found
Boxill unique."She tries to be inclusive,"
Mitchell said. "But it's a pretty exclusive
Mitchell, 38, learned to approach her
• 22 percent of transfer applicants are
24 or older; they had a 37 percent
acceptance rate in 2004
• Less than 1 percent of freshman
applicants were 24 or older; they had
a 16 percent acceptance rate
Source: UNC Office of AdmiSSions, 2004 data
In her "Ethics in Sports" class, Bunn sat
near the front so she could see her profes-
sor's facial expressions. Two "little girls," as
she called them, often sat next to her, one
drawing a picture on the other's hand.
Professor Jan Boxill asked the class what
is controversial about competition.
"I have my answer," Bunn said with
such enthusiasm the class broke into laugh-
ter. "Come right quick!"
Boxill walked over to Buon and lis-
tened. Bunn told her that competition can
lead to violence. By way of example, she
described how angry she could get toward
her son's opposing team, and the class
Later, Boxill asked another question and
called on a student who thumbed through
her notebook but couldn't find the answer.
Finally Boxill called on a young woman
who politely rephrased Boxill's question as
a complete sentence, ending with a refer-
ence to the answer in her book.
As well-schooled and bright as tradi-
tional Carolina students are, they don't have
too many years oflife experience to draw
upon. Answers in th.e abstract tend to come
CA It0 LINA ALUMNIREVlEW
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