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Breaking Barriers: Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles that Nontraditional Students Face Carol Fleming and Sarah MacDonald James Madison University.

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Presentation on theme: "Breaking Barriers: Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles that Nontraditional Students Face Carol Fleming and Sarah MacDonald James Madison University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Breaking Barriers: Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles that Nontraditional Students Face Carol Fleming and Sarah MacDonald James Madison University

2 Barriers: Obstacles for Success Barrier (bar-ee-er). noun. anything built or serving to bar passage, as a railing, fence, or the like any natural bar or obstacle anything that obstructs progress, access, etc. a limit or boundary of any kind

3 Context James Madison University enrolls 20,000 students as of this year Tradition of excellence in undergraduate education While nontraditional, nondegree seeking, graduate, and adult student populations are growing rapidly, they often run into policies and processes that are not designed for their needs

4 Example JMU eID and password For security reasons, password expires every 90 days (faculty, staff, students, affiliates) To reset password, users login, go through security awareness training, and reset password Reminders sent to JMU address 20 days before, then 15, then 10, then 9, then 8…. If the password expires and isn’t reset, the user must go in person to the Frye Building and show approved ID to prevent unauthorized access Sounds perfectly reasonable, right?

5 Exceptions High school students earning dual enrollment credit Teachers earning a master’s degree at an off-campus location Online students …So now what?

6 Strategy #1: Meet with Stakeholders Seek first to understand, and then to be understood What’s the primary concern here? Present a reasonable case Show examples of exceptions (as many as feasible) Suggest alternatives Ask for help

7 Brainstorm! What barriers do your students face?

8 Barriers: Our List at JMU Registrar’s office – permission to enroll, permission to drop all credits, permission to give incompletes University Business Office – when to bill contract courses, how to control registration, how to accommodate different and varying tuition rates Visa – ability to accept for noncredit courses Admission deadlines – Adult Degree Program Course scheduling– eight week, intensives, crossing semesters Certificates – creating modules Financial aid – credit, noncredit

9 More Strategies Being at the table Roadshow Internal and external marketing Telling stories (in every possible way) Present evidence – data-driven decision making

10 More Strategies Over-deliver Provide as much service as possible – servant leadership “This is what we do now.” Suggest a pilot Breakfast!

11 Brainstorm! What other strategies can be used to overcome these institutional barriers?

12 A Note About Change Systems are designed to resist change, even against all rationality The image of traditional students, living on campus and sequestered from the world, learning everything they need to become empowered citizens and change the world – it’s pretty powerful and deeply embedded But: this isn’t the reality of higher education anymore Nontraditonal is the new traditional It just might take our institutions a while to catch up

13 Barriers We Haven’t Been Able to Address Yet Child care Degree progress report Social opportunities for adult students Evening courses Parking Housing

14 Barriers We Haven’t Been Able to Address Yet

15 Brainstorm! How can you apply these strategies at your institution? What are the top three things you can begin to address on Wednesday?

16 Questions? Carol Fleming Sarah MacDonald


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