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					              Breaking Barriers:
Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles that
             Nontraditional Students Face


               Carol Fleming and Sarah MacDonald
                         James Madison University
              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
                               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
                               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 email 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?
                            Exceptions


• High school students earning dual enrollment credit
• Teachers earning a master’s degree at an off-campus location
• Online students


• …So now what?
           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
                            Brainstorm!


• What barriers do your students face?
                    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
                          More Strategies


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


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


• What other strategies can be used to overcome these institutional
  barriers?
                      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
   Barriers We Haven’t Been Able to Address Yet


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


• How can you apply these strategies at your institution?


• What are the top three things you can begin to address on
  Wednesday?
                   Questions?


Carol Fleming
fleminca@jmu.edu


Sarah MacDonald
macdonsk@jmu.edu

				
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posted:6/8/2013
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