Supporting diverse student populations on campus

February 23, 2021
  • Admissions and Recruitment
  • Retention
  • AM2021 Students First
diverse crowd of little illustrated figures walking in every direction

Different populations of students face unique challenges as they enter higher education. Student services professionals, therefore, need resources and ideas to best support them. At the 2021 (106th) AACRAO Annual Meeting, several presenters will offer sessions that focus on supporting student success.

Military and veteran students

Edward Trombley and Valerie Kisseloff, of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide, will share their experience working with a large population of military and veteran students. Their session will cover the admissions application process, evaluation of credit, continuing service, matching students to appropriate degree programs, and graduation ceremonies, as well as information on military partnerships and programs and how to apply policy and procedures within institutions. 

“Everyone wants to serve this population of students, but many do not see large enough numbers to understand the best support services,” said Trombley, the university’s registrar. “Our session will address questions where there might not be a precedent so it is difficult to get a consensus on how to move forward.”

At Embry-Riddle, a key factor in serving military students is a close relationship between the office of the registrar and the admissions office. Such cooperation directly impacts students, said Kisseloff, director of admissions. “From the student perspective, we are always looking for ways to make the process more streamlined,” she said. 

“Understanding the military population itself and how institutions can, from the beginning, ask the right questions from these students and collect the best documentation, will be a key takeaway of our session, “Kisseloff said. “We can’t serve them well if we don’t know enough about them.”

LGBTQ students

Sherri Beideck, assistant registrar at Georgia Highlands College will address the needs of today’s LGBTQ’s students at this year’s meeting. “Higher education should be a positive environment for a student’s identity development,” she said. “Instead, LGBTQ students face a greater risk of harassment, bullying, discrimination and violence.”

She added that LGBTQ students are the highest risk population of college students for suicidal thoughts. These students are also at higher risk of not completing at their first institution with as high as two-thirds of transgender students saying they changed schools because they did not feel safe, she said. 

 “It is our responsibility to make sure these students come into a welcoming and safe environment as they move through their higher education experience,” she said. 

Beideck’s session will address the 2017 campaign by Betsy DeVos, former secretary of education under the Trump administration, to roll back Title IX protections regarding sexual assault on campuses. “With LGBTQ individuals of all genders and sexual orientations facing higher rates of sexual violence than even heterosexual women, this places an even greater burden on the sub-population,” she said. 

 Those changes took effect in August 2020 but are expected to be reversed by the Biden administration. “We’ll discuss what these changes mean; recruiting and retaining LGBTQ students; educating faculty, staff, safety officers and students; creating safe spaces across campuses for these students; providing visible allies and support; and incorporating representation into curriculum. 

 “I hope that attendees will take away information regarding ways that we, as student services professionals, can all work together to make our institutions a safe and welcoming space for all students.”

To learn more about best practices in supporting student success in higher education, register now for the 2021 (106th) AACRAO Annual Meeting.


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