I am taking a summer class at a local university. It’s a new school for me and it’s about 10 times larger than the last university I attended. I went there today to get my student id, a parking decal and to familiarize myself more with the drive to the school and navigating around the school. While I was at the school, I decided to pop into an office that is known for supporting the non-traditional student.
This office was located in the back of a building and if I had not been specifically looking for it would have been quite easy to miss. Yet, I was persistent and took the time to find it. When I did, I walked into a space that was actually small for such a big campus and for the number of people whom I know must be non-traditional students.
Non-traditional students, in this case, are generally and loosely defined as people who are not the typical, living in the dorm, first time away from home, only responsible for school students. They are students who tend to live off of campus and who have responsibilities (i.e. jobs and family) outside of school. And, they are, as I was informed by the Assistant Director, an ever growing population of students in colleges and universities.
The reception I received was warm and inviting. The Assistant Director was willing to spend time with me explaining all the services they offer (helping students transition into the university life setting, redirecting students with all sorts of difficulties to the proper resources such as school counselors, local assistance organizations, housing providers, connecting non-traditional students needs with the university, and connecting non-traditional students with other non-traditional students, etc.). This office turned out to be a hang out spot for non-traditional students to come between classes, for lunch, and after class to study and for a bit of moral support and encouragement.
I also found out while I was there that they were in the process of packing up and moving to a new building with, I hope although I don’t know if it will be the case, a larger space to serve and hopefully attract more students. Although I can’t say for sure, I would venture to guess that there are many students who don’t know that this service exists. I would venture to further guess that if they did know about it, they’d be there more often to take advantage of the services.
As I left, I was invited to come back and see the Assistant Director or just hang out any time the office was open. I was also invited to come and help with the unpacking after the move to the new office. I said I would be back and if they needed the help, I’d be glad to help with the unpacking. This service is important and not every university or college has such a program.
I spent more time than I had intended on campus. However, having stopped off at the office for Non-traditional students and talking with the Assistant Director, I can’t say that I regret it. In fact, it was a bit of my time spent well.