Juggling Priorities: Staying Sober in College as a Nontraditional Student

  • Jennifer DerenneEmail author


Nontraditional students are defined as those who (1) are >24 years old, (2) are financially independent from their parents, (3) are working full time, (4) are attending classes part time, (5) have dependents, (6) are single parents, and (7) have a GED or high school equivalent. Nontraditional students are prone to higher levels of stress and anxiety and are more likely to leave school before earning a degree. This chapter describes the case of a nontraditional college student, who decides to return to college after a failed transition from high school to community college several years earlier. The student is also 5 years sober from alcohol and struggles to find substance-free activities on campus. Discussion focuses on understanding the ways that nontraditional students feel pulled between family and academic responsibilities, suggests ways to help nontraditional college students feel connected to their peers, and reviews ways that universities can promote a substance-free culture on campus.


Nontraditional college students Substance use disorders in college Alcoholics anonymous on campus Mentoring programs for nontraditional students Sobriety on campus Targeted orientation sessions 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesStanford University School of Medicine, Lucile Packard Children’s HospitalStanfordUSA

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