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Non-Traditional Students

Non-Traditional Students

A non-traditional student is defined as someone who identifies with any of the following:

  • did not enter postsecondary education immediately after high school
  • has a GED instead of a high school diploma
  • works full-time while enrolled at SDSU
  • has dependents other than a spouse

We encourage all SDSU students to pursue study abroad, including those who may be older than the traditional undergraduate, have responsibilities to other family members, work full-time, or have a spouse or children.  Many students have additional logistical or practical considerations when planning to study abroad, but they are still able to have a productive and satisfying international experience.  Often older students or those traveling with dependents have unique and memorable experiences as a result of those non-traditional attributes.  Returnees indicate outcomes, such as foreign language development, cross-cultural skills and greater self-confidence, were well worth the planning and investment.


Questions you may be considering:

Is it possible for me to take my child or spouse/partner/fiancé(e) along with me when I study abroad?

You may be permitted to have your child and/or spouse accompany you while you study abroad, and SDSU Study Abroad Advisors are happy to assist with this accommodation, where possible.  Preparation is key, and you will need to consider:

  • Accounting for additional costs, availability of accommodation and/or special visa requirements
  • Developing a separate itinerary for your child and/or spouse*
  • Arranging childcare for accompanying children**
  • Purchasing comprehensive international medical insurance for your child or spouse***
*Your child or spouse will not be permitted to participate in any of the program activities (classes, group activities/meals, excursions, etc.). This will greatly impact faculty-led programs and will be less relevant for exchange programs.
**Enrolling your child in a local school may be a great opportunity to have your child be involved with other children in the host country during the day, but it may take time to locate and enroll from here in the U.S.
***The comprehensive international medical insurance you receive as a study abroad student will not be provided for your child or spouse. It will be your sole responsibility to determine if you have adequate medical insurance for your family members.

You might also consider studying abroad without your child. A number of SDSU students who are parents leave their children with a spouse, close family member or friend while studying abroad.

How can I still study abroad if I have significant family and/or work obligations?

Consider a shorter program offered during the summer, winter or spring break. These programs range from one to six weeks, yet provide you with an opportunity to receive credit and satisfy degree completion requirements.  Regardless of how long you are living in a different country, immersing yourself in another culture will help improve your ability to think more complexly and creatively – and you may also be a more competitive job or graduate school applicant as a result.

Consider looking into the few programs or countries that would allow you to work part-time while you are studying abroad. This option is generally only available to those studying abroad for a semester or longer and a limited number of countries, so be sure to plan ahead.

Can I find accommodation that fits my attributes, if I am older or have a spouse or dependent living with me?

It may be possible to find alternate accommodation while abroad, but it depends on the program type. Many short programs such as faculty-led options include the cost of housing in the program fee, but longer programs such as exchanges, allow students to locate their own housing.  It is your responsibility to research available housing options and secure alternative arrangements as needed.  However, the SDSU Study Abroad office may be able to provide additional suggestions.

It may be possible for you to live with other students of your approximate age. If your study abroad program includes housing, make sure you indicate this preference when completing your housing application. Availability will vary by program, so be sure to speak with your Study Abroad Advisor if this is a concern for you.

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