UpstandingSteve There are all different kinds of learners. Some people respond best to audio, others are more visual, and some are extremely tactile and need to physically manipulate materials to solidify information.

What’s not so great about this, is the fact that our education system is fairly rigid. Instructors stand at the front of the room and lecture on a topic. Occasionally there will be writing on a whiteboard that students are asked to copy down for future reference. Students are then tested on the material they’ve been taught and if they don’t understand the questions, they are penalized by being given a poor grade.

Luckily, this is beginning to change. Industry leaders are recognizing the fact that we don’t all respond to the traditional classroom environment. Some do better when they are learning in an active situation, others can benefit from an online degree program, and some need one-on-one work with an educator.

These are all options.

Here are three learning opportunities for non-traditional students.

Work College

Though Deep Springs is often discussed in almost reverent tones, it’s a wonderfully unique university environment for those who do best when they’re getting their hands dirty. Students work more than 20 hours a week ranching and farming and learn life skills along with academics in a tight-knit environment. There are fewer than 30 students enrolled at a single time. Deep Springs isn’t the only school that offers such a program, but it’s one of the most highly regarded.

Online Degree Program

Many students have seen ads for college courses that allow them to do the majority of their work online and graduate with a degree in their chosen field. Bluefield College is one school that offers this type of non-traditional learning environment. Students can take classes in Management and Leadership, E-business and Entrepreneurship, or even get their Masters in Education.

Home Schooling

This is probably the most popular option for students who don’t respond well to a traditional academic environment. Parents can teach their children from the comfort of home following a pre-determined curriculum from an umbrella school. Later in life, these students may find that a traditional college is a good fit for them, or they may look to other options. The good news is that there are a number of new opportunities thanks to emerging technology and an awareness of learning differences.

Everyone absorbs information differently. These learning differences can shift later in life too so a student who struggles in a typical classroom environment as an adolescent might find that they are better equipped for traditional school by adulthood. We are fortunate to live in a world that recognizes these differences and offers up options to learners of all shapes and sizes.