Non-traditional students at AC obtain high graduation rates

Amarillo College has more than 7,000 students, nearly half of them are a part of the Adult Students Program.

More than half of low-income working mothers in Texas lack a college education, according to a Washington, D.C., based project, but Amarillo College has a program working to change that.

Librarian Cindi Wynia is an exception.

"I got tired of being in jobs where I was told you're perfectly capable, but you don't have a degree," Wynia said.

Originally Wynia received an associate's degree from Amarillo College. When she decided to return to school at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU), she was 38 years old with a 6-year-old daughter.

"I just feel like I had to do it," Wynia said. "I had to show my daughter that education matters."

Wynia said she was working full-time, and didn't qualify for any financial assistance programs at WTAMU, though she said she could have used the help.

"I could only take one class a semester, because that's all I could afford, and I was working to provide for my daughter," Wynia said.

What would take an average student four years, took Wynia seven. Wynia said a program like the Adult Students Program at Amarillo College would have made the transition back school a lot easier.

Coordinator Nancy Brent said, the program has proved to be a success.

"The non-traditional students that receive assistance through the Adults Students Program have a much higher graduation rate than the typical college graduation rate," Brent said.

That goes along with the retention rate for non-traditional students. For the 2012-2013 school year, Amarillo College's retention rate for students coming from high school was 72 percent, while the program's held an 84 percent for nontraditional students.

Brent said, there's "wiggle room" for students who do not qualify for financial assistance, but who may be accepted into the program.

For Wynia, she said although it was a struggle, she pushed through it to prove to the one person who mattered the most -- her daughter.