Tales of the non-traditional

From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Goddard College President Can Empathize With Adult Learners
Barbara Vacarr was certainly a nontraditional student. How fitting that she finds herself at the helm of Goddard College, an institution that has long appealed to adult students and those who want a different kind of education.
Dissatisfied with the education she was getting in high school, Ms. Vacarr left at age 15 to get her GED. In college, she says, she also felt confined by and disconnected from the curriculum, and she dropped out 12 credits shy of getting her bachelor's degree. 
But feeling that she had unfinished business, Ms. Vacarr later returned to college after she was married with children. She went to Lesley University, in a program that was influenced by an adult-education program that started at Goddard. And this time, the progressive approach was different from what she was used to.

"The first questions that I was asked were, What did I care deeply about, and what did I want to know?" Ms. Vacarr says in a podcast with The Chronicle. "The question of being asked what do you care deeply about in an educational setting is itself a disorienting question for those of us who have gone through fairly traditional education." Usually a school or college tells you what you need to know, never mind your interests.

In time, she was hired by Lesley as an adviser for adult students and moved up the ladder to eventually run the doctoral program. Then one day she got a letter from a search consultant who was looking for a president for Goddard.


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