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Joe Smith - Personal Story

Tough economic times have led a growing number of students back to the classroom to update skills or retool entire careers. Nichole Guzick-Baisden is a classic example. She’s a full-time mom aiming for a Respiratory Care associate degree and a sleep study certificate. And at 27 years old, she is the average age of all students enrolled at Columbus State.

In fact, so-called “traditional students” who are 18 to 21 years old make up only a little over one-third of the total student population. (In the autumn of 2009, 34% were 22 to 29, 17% were 30 to 39 and 12% percent were 40 and older.)

Nichole took advantage of a unique aid program designed specifically for non-traditional students. It’s called the Think Again scholarship. The Columbus State Board of Trustees set aside $3 million for the multi-year program. New part-time and full-time students can receive up to $3,500 over two years to help pay for tuition.
Nichole Guzick-Baisden

Nichole – who first started taking classes in 2006, left in 2008, and then returned in 2010 – says, “I hope to get a job in my field while pursuing the respiratory degree. Eventually, I want to work in a hospital setting by helping and working directly with patients.”

So far, her scholarship has paid $500 each quarter for a total of $1,500. She has also qualified for the scholarship renewal award which increases the amount to an additional $2,000 for the next three quarters.

“This scholarship has helped me out tremendously! With the help of the grant money I was able to concentrate more on my classes,” Nichole says. “Otherwise, I would’ve been forced to find a part-time job and reduce my course load – delaying my graduation. My goal right now is to have a diploma in hand by 2012.”