Serving today’s nontraditional students

February 9, 2021
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Online and Distance Learning
  • AM2021 Impact of 2020
  • AM2021 Students First
  • nontraditional students
  • Student Success
Young student watching lesson online and studying from home. Young woman taking notes while looking at computer screen following professor doing math on video call.

Serving online students is not the same as serving traditional students; a unique approach is required to meet the needs of these nontraditional students.  

At the upcoming 2021 (106th) Annual Meeting, Rich Simpson and Rhonda Moll of California Baptist University will share some of their institution’s efforts to ensure nontraditional students are successful. The session is one of several that will focus on the impact of 2020 on higher education at this year’s meeting. 

“Online learning is ever-increasing in popularity, and has become the predominant means for course delivery, at least temporarily, during the pandemic,” Simpson said. “While we hope traditional students will be able to return to the classroom soon, many have realized that online learning is a viable option for education.” 

California Baptist University Online has more than 40 fully online and fully accredited degree programs designed for busy adults. The division works closely with admissions, advising, and academics, and has a dedicated registrar’s office that complements the institution’s eight-week admissions cycle as well as a one-stop advising model.

“We chose this [session] topic because it is something we’ve invested a lot of time in ourselves and has proven to be effective in serving non-traditional students well,” Moll said. “Not only has anecdotal customer feedback been positive, but our retention rate increased with transitioning to nontraditional practices.”

These practices include: 

  • enrolling students two years out; 

  • tracking academic success and failure; 

  • mitigating barriers to completion; and 

  • utilizing technology to increase operational efficiencies and service to students.

“We hope the audience will come away with renewed perspectives on the non-traditional student and how their university may be able to modify practices to better serve this population,” Moll said. “We also hope the audience takes away some of the specific strategies CBU implemented and apply them to serving their own student populations.” 

Simpson added: “Online learning can be a means to an end for many who thought higher education was not possible for them. Those who do not have the opportunity for a traditional brick and mortar education – those with a family to support or who must work full-time – can still finish their bachelor’s degree or achieve the benefits of continuing their education by completing a masters or doctorate. To serve these types of students well, a different set of strategies and processes is required.” 

To attend this session and others, register for the 2021 (106th) Annual Meeting.



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