The UL System has just published a profile of non-traditional students in the member institutions.  UL's representative in the report is Dori Ann St. Julien, who returned to school at 38 to pursue medical records management. Read the complete document here.

Dori Ann St. Julien is no stranger to the University of Louisiana. The 38-year-old sophomore is a returning student who began her college career in 1999.

That year, she studied psychology, lived on the fifth floor of Denbo Hall and saw the university change its name. But, her timing on campus wasn’t right.  “I just wasn’t focused enough,” the Lafayette native explained. Ultimately, she withdrew from the university.

St. Julien entered the workforce full-time at that point and spent 10 years with a communications company. She was laid off in 2009. “I spent my New Year’s Eve packing my office,” she said. “I filed for unemployment and thought ‘I can’t just sit here.’” So, she didn’t. She decided to return to UL with a stronger focus and eagerness to learn.

“I’m paying more attention in class and I’m taking things more seriously this time,” she said. Reentry to the university, as in St. Julien’s case, is easy. Students returning to campus should first fill out a new application, which can be completed online.

“Next, they receive a letter from the university regarding their status, and if they are readmitted, they receive advising information,” said Mary Bourque, reentry coordinator in UL’s Academic Success Center. “After that, they get advised and register.” She suggested students apply the semester before they enroll. That way, early advising and registration may be available.

“I assist students through the process, and sometimes advise them if they have completed less than 45 hours,” Bourque said. “If they have more than 45 hours, they get advised by their dean’s office.”

Also, in many cases, previously completed coursework still counts, depending upon the major a reentry student chooses and whether the course has changed. An academic dean evaluates the student’s transcript during the first semester of reenrollment to determine what courses carry over.

“The process is really quite simple for these students who may be finishing an earlier program, pursuing a new major, pursuing a second degree or taking courses for their own benefit,” said Bourque.

As for being back on campus, St. Julien said there are some noticeable changes. For starters, the dormitory she called home in 2009 will be torn down this month. Both Denbo and Bancroft halls, which stand next to each other, will be demolished to make way for new, contemporary housing. The work is part of a major construction project that will add student housing on campus.

Since the 1990s, many buildings have been added or renovated. Dupré Library was expanded and updated, for example. “Just being on campus, you can see the vast improvements,” she said.

The application process and scheduling of classes were all new to her as well. “When I was here before, we were looking through newspapers to find our classes. Now, everything is done on the computer. It’s all online,” she said.

When asked, St. Julien said she believes she has an advantage over students just starting out.

“I know firsthand that it hurts when you are paying back student loans and you don’t have a degree,” she said. “I’m going to make it count this time. I’m not going to waste a second.”

Earlier this month, she began her second semester. Once she graduates, she plans to work in medical records management. “It’s really exciting to be starting on this path right now. This field is emerging as more and more records are becoming electronic. I could work in a hospital or I could travel.”

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