National Nontrad Student Week has traditionally fallen on the first full week in November. Plans for Nontraditional Student Week are well underway for many colleges and universities across the country, recognizing and celebrating exclusively the nontraditional student population. The number of nontraditional students attending college on campus and online is the fasting growing demographic, according to the Department of Education, NCES. There is a growing demand for programs that focus more on this demographic, now more than ever. How a college or university chooses to provide for their nontraditional students can make the difference between a successful adult learner program or an unsuccessful program. At ANTSHE, the focus has always been on nontraditional students, after all, it's in our name! Not sure how you can celebrate nontraditional students on your campus?
The Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education (ANTSHE) provides some fun and exciting ways to celebrate nontraditional students. Some colleges choose to celebrate in more traditional ways that won't blow the administrative budget. For example, simply providing coffee and donuts are a great start. How about recognizing nontraditional students that go out of their way to help other nontraditional students through support, motivation, guidance? Consider celebrating nontraditional students with a an essay contest and the winner gets a money prize, gift card, or gift certificate to a local restaurant or better yet, a kid-friendly restaurant like Monkey Joe's or Chuck E Cheese so that parents can get a little break too.
Another great idea is to hold a workshop where nontraditional students can come and get assistance with financial aid, job placement, resume writing, technology and computer assistance, homework help, and so on. You could also consider hosting a party in honor of nontraditional students and invite their families and have games, prizes, inflatables or entertainment, so the whole family can enjoy.
How about recognizing specific faculty or administration who have had a direct impact on the lives of adult students at your college or university? Present them with an award or gift card as a sign of appreciation.
Pizza and family movie night with popcorn, drinks, candy, the works! How about renting a food truck? Perhaps you could even consider organizing a Run/Walk, Bike or Swim Event.
Small gestures like these can mean so much to adult students who may feel disconnected or unwelcome at functions that focus primarily on the needs of more traditional students. Who says that celebrating your nontraditional students has to only happen one week a year, why not start a campaign to host monthly gatherings for nontraditional students and their families. So, how does your college or university celebrate your nontraditional students?