Finally some coverage for one of the fastest-growing student populations - non-traditional students. Though we're not fans of labeling this group as 'non-traditional' as their experience of juggling work, families and academia are fast becoming commonplace they do have different sets of needs vs. the more 'traditional' 18-22-year-old undergraduate. Some stats about this group of students:
  • Non-traditional students are at twice the risk of dropping out vs. traditional students
  • A mere 37% of those at risk are confident they will accomplish their educational goals
  • At risk, non-traditional students have roughly half the participation rate in extra-curricular activities (33% vs. 62%) vs. those not at risk
  • At risk, non-traditional students spend 37% less time on campus vs. their peers (10 hours/week vs. 16 hours/week)
  • Alarmingly, amongst at risk, non-traditional student only 3% have friends at school, just 5% feel socially connected and 8% feel like they belong at their school
But wait, it gets worse.  Fewer than 50% of at risk, non-traditional students feel that faculty are available to help when needed.  So what's a motivated school to do?  According to the article:
  1. Reach out to at risk, non-traditional students for feedback on school services offered
  2. Encourage them to engage on campus [editorial note: we suspect they don't have the free time, how about expanding social learning opportunities in courses?]
  3. Be persistent in communications, use preferred channels [ed. Hey! Junction reaches students via SMS, just saying...]
  4. Think broader with career counseling support
  5. Educate students on affordable materials/learning solutions [ed. okay, they sourced a vendor study, this doesn't correlate to the findings reported but certainly can't hurt]
From our conversations with students across the country, they absolutely want to feel part of the campus community, but the onus isn't just on the institution or administration to make this happen.  Our humble advice is to engage instructors and the entire student body, create more active learning opportunities and incorporate group projects that apply classroom knowledge.  Encourage everyone involved to look out for each other, it's should never be each student on their own against the world.  Technology and affordable content play parts if, and only if, there is a tight coupling of everything noted above. For more, read the full article at the link below.

5 innovative strategies to support non-traditional students - eCampus News

Institutions are stepping up strategies to help at-risk non-traditional students meet their academic goals and minimize threats to their success.