Non-Traditional is the New Black

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Published on December 6, 2016

Students who have been out of school for at least five years before coming to HCC may be eligible to transfer to Yale University to complete their degrees.

The Eli Whitney Program was established for non-traditional mature individuals with high academic potential, so they can have an opportunity that they might not get otherwise. Specifically, the program is designed for students who have taken a five year gap or more from education. The students who are in this program range from mid twenties to late fifties.

A student’s current transcript is most essential. They do not care if someone had bad grades in the past, they look at the improvement, and the willingness one has to dedicate themselves to their education. According to Yale’s Eli Whitney Admissions website,“ Most successful applicants have recent GPAs of 3.8 or above.”

Yale wants students who may have had a unorthodox biography, but didn’t let that define them. They want a student who will benefit their community in new ways, and expose traditional students to new aspects of life they haven’t experienced.

Unlike other colleges’ continuing education programs that give non-traditional students different educations, being a part of the Eli Whitney program means you get the same exact education as the “normal” student. When an Eli Whitney student graduates it doesn’t even say one was a part of the program on their diplomas.

“This program is Yale’s best kept secret.” said Patricia Wei, Associate Director of Admissions at Yale, due to the fact that not many are aware of this hidden jewel.

If this sounds like you, here are some things to ponder about before applying.

The Eli Whitney Program looks for students that will leave a mark on their community, so admissions looks at what you have previously done to leave your mark on other communities. One who is interested in this program should start compiling evidence to back this, or start making a mark ASAP.

Yale believes in the “breadth and depth” way of learning. They look for students who want a wide range of knowledge, and who have the ability to think analytically. This being said, if a student only wants to get an education in one certain major than this program might not be for you. Students will only take 14-16 (out of 34) classes that are actually dedicated to their major, and the rest will be classes that range from all different aspects of learning. Even political science majors will take classes like astrology to guarantee their well rounded. So students interested,  will have to be ready to be pushed outside their comfort zone.

Marc Strickland, a current Eli Whitney student, said, “Being one of the oldest people in classes made me self conscious at first, but then I realized it was a strength.”  He went on to say that people will try and talk you out of doing this, but if he can do it, so can anyone else.

Student who are in the Eli Whitney Program do not live on campus; mainly because what forty-seven year old wants to live with a partying twenty-one year old who comes stumbling inebriated at 4am…

The Eli Whitney Program recognizes that nontraditional students have more on their plate, so they accommodate to the student. These students are able to take part-time classes there as long as they take three classes per year. Actually, they would recommend them to start off part-time until they adjust. Yale will give a part time student up to seven years to achieve their undergraduate degree.

I know people think of Yale as being extremely pricey and this may be true, but 96% of Eli Whitney Students qualify for financial aid in 2015 and 76% qualified for a need-based full tuition scholarship.

Interested? Here’s what you need to know before applying.

One does not need to graduate from Housatonic to be considered. The classes that will transfer are general ones such as math and literature, but classes like business or criminal justice will not. Also, any classes that were taken online will not transfer.

A student will need three recommendation letters, preferably, two from educators.

The deadline to apply is March 15th. No pressure! You have lots of time to prepare! Further information for applying can be found at,