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Non-Traditionals: The New Disruptive Force in Higher Education

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Mon,07/17/2017-17:55

The term ’non-traditional’ seems ubiquitous in higher education today, but even The National Center for Education Statistics is pushed for a more precise definition of this increasingly influential force in the student population. What typically characterizes those in the non-traditional category are students with part-time status, are outside the traditional 18-24 age range, or who have children or other dependents. There are other likely definitions such as having a GED rather than a high school diploma, possessing veteran’s status, the first in their family to go to college, distance learners or ESL students.

 

If hard to define, the impact of non-traditionals on the campus is anything but. Rather than representing a minority, 75 percent of all undergraduate students fall under at least one of these characteristics — and that figure is only likely to rise. The CLASP Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success predicts that non-traditional student enrollment is projected to increase more than twice as fast as traditional student enrollments between 2012 to 2022, yet the changing makeup of the student population is less about demographics and more about the challenges of providing the education and support that will enable these students to succeed.

 

CHANGING LEARNING, AND WHAT'S LEARNED

"This is a different customer base than the traditional student on campus," pointed out Lisa Malat, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Barnes & Noble College, in a recent College Store Magazine article. "College administrators and educators need to do whatever they can to develop the kinds of messaging and programming that will resonate with (these) students now," she advised. Keeping the college experience desirable and relevant for a cost-conscious and time-crunched population, with highly specific academic objectives, is introducing a new and highly disruptive element to higher education. It’s a dramatic shift to a more consumer driven presentation of course subjects and teaching methods, and has significant ramifications for college faculty. Increasingly, core learning materials are being augmented, and even replaced, by non-traditional sources such as Open Educational Resource (OER) platforms, providing the opportunity for more customized, faculty-designed content.

 

According to Barnes & Noble College's recent Achieving Success for Non-Traditional Students report, 42 percent of respondents took at least one class online just in the last semester, with 69 percent of non-traditional students saying the ability to take courses online is important. Faced with factors such as convenience, transportation and cost — all vital considerations for anyone juggling their education with multiple off-campus responsibilities — non-traditional students are more likely to prefer online courses than their traditional counterparts. Outside of the classroom, and reflecting their increased financial responsibilities, career support is considered a priority for non-traditional students, but many feel like they could still use more help from their schools. According to the study, 72 percent of non-traditional students consider career counseling an important resource with many expressing a more pronounced interest in getting help with developing career skills, finding and applying for jobs, understanding the job market and networking.

 

The research also reflected a harsher reality for non-traditional students: Many of the students polled felt isolated from their campus and only 37 percent of those considered ‘at-risk’ felt confident they would be able to accomplish their goals. Access to education, while managing hectic and sometimes stressful lives, is a clearly distinguishable success factor for these students in achieving those goals. And as the non-traditional category expands, educators will be under even more pressure to tailor the delivery of their courses to increasingly more exclusive populations. By 2020, for example, over five million service members are expected to transition out of the military, and with the passing of the Post-9/11 GI Bill nearly ten years ago, college campuses have already seen a marked increase in enrollment of veteran students across the country. There is also a move towards colleges developing well targeted and highly intense courses designed to provide students with the skills and qualifications they need for specific professions while reducing the study time required away from the wage-earning workforce.

 

SAVVY CONSUMERS

Reflective of the social environments they serve, the impact of non-traditionals on higher education is being seen in the development of more inclusive and accommodating campus environments — along with teaching programs that reflect a wider sense of diversity. As a group, non-traditional students are particularly vigilant in weighing the value of college and how their investment might translate directly to better careers and higher earnings, or help them realize that dream profession. With the motivation and power of being able to comparison shop for those institutions and those course offerings that best fit their needs, they’ve become the savvy consumers of higher education and the lightening-rod that is forcing colleges to continually re-evaluate and improve the educational services they offer in order to stay viable.

 

Achieving Success for Non-Traditional Students report, click here.

 

For more information about Barnes & Noble College Insights, click here.

NEXT: Maryland Student Affairs Builds Partnerships and Advocacy on Campus

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Fri,07/07/2017-13:58

In times of division, the college campus can be a place of coming together, and when understanding is lacking, it can represent a place of enlightenment and compassion. Some of those very best qualities are at the heart of the student experience, and increasingly, as campuses look to include more diverse voices and the wider inclusion of more communities, they’re also looking to connect to deeper partnerships with the kinds of resources that support those initiatives. One campus where that thinking is particularly prevalent is at the University of Maryland. The institution’s Student Affairs office began the year by hosting its 41st Maryland Student Affairs Conference with the theme, “United for One Another,” in an effort to encompass the unity of the student affairs community, and the diversity of its members who encourage and uplift one another.

 

EXCELLENCE IN SERVING THE COMMUNITY

Roz Moore, Class of ’95, left the College Park campus to pursue a career in marketing and corporate gift giving, but just over two years ago, she returned to use those skills to help transform the lives of other students. As a college with a reputation for excellence in academics and research, Moore, in her current role of Assistant Director, University of Maryland Division of Student Affairs Office of Development and External Relations, is also cognizant that her department helps spearhead the goals of excellence in serving the community. That objective was clearly on display at this year’s Maryland Student Affairs Conference, which is designed as an opportunity for student affairs professionals to gather and learn, and share ideas across a variety of topics. “Especially when what we’re hearing in our nation and across the globe is being directed at our differences, the theme of the conference was an attempt to reinforce the theme of being there for each other, and how we can work together and help each other to achieve our shared goals — and celebrate our accomplishments,” she says.

 

Among Moore’s campus partners who spoke at the Conference, Myra Haley, Manager of the University Book Center campus bookstore, highlighted the bookstore’s outreach to veteran students. “We’re trying to make sure we’re providing those individuals with the resources they need, recognizing that many of them are here on the G.I. Bill,” Haley explains. “To achieve that, we’ve partnered with the Office of Veteran Student Life to help veteran students easily obtain their books from the Book Center.”

 

With its proximity to the nation’s capital, the College Park campus is rated as one of the top institutions for veterans, and contributing to that support is the Book Center’s partnership with Veterans Affairs offices in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. The rapport between the two entities ensures everything is set up for those non-traditional students, who are also helped by a scholarship program for needs-based veterans. “It’s such a tight-knit community, and because you build that rapport, and have recognized them as individuals, these students return to the campus and bring in their families and other vets,” Haley explains.

 

While Haley is proud of her work with veterans, it’s just one initiative that the bookstore’s outreach program offers, yet she’s noticed a change in the kinds of conversations she has with her students and campus administration. “Those conversations are now less about money and more about help and advice on how we can help them with a particular piece of advocacy work,” she says. “It could be they’re looking for a space for their programming or looking for a partner to help that program work — or even advice on how philanthropy could work. It’s more about how we can accomplish something or how we can set up a program that is going to create value and really engage.”

 

SUPPORTING THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE 

Even as she acknowledges the campus’ total unmet needs shortfall of nearly $60 million for Maryland’s students for the 2015-16 academic year, Moore agrees that there is a greater value to partnership than just its financial aspects. “Our partners have such an incredible impact on what we’re able to achieve here,” she says, “and partnership can take many forms.” Moore lists outreach programs ranging from volunteerism to helping critique resumes and coaching career preparedness as just some of the many opportunities where her campus partners can be involved and make a positive impact. She points out that the Book Center itself welcomes new students coming to campus with in-store VIP events during Fall Welcome Weekends in partnership with the Resident Life team, supports Parent and Family Affairs during Family Weekend by donating items for a silent auction towards the Student Scholarship Fund, and strengthens Fraternity and Sorority Life outreach by sharing preferred pricing for merchandise for their events.

 

For the University of Maryland, creating and sustaining those kinds of supportive relationships don’t just represent good sense economically, they’re also vital to the strength of the campus community. For Moore, it’s also a personal imperative. “As a student, I came to Maryland on a full scholarship — and doubt if I would have had a college education without it. What we’re committing to, as the Division of Student Affairs, is providing that same access and support for this generation of students by looking for new and better ways to be more inclusive and improve their Maryland experience.”

 

Article reposted from Barnes & Noble College NEXT.

Click here to read original article.