Higher education is a dynamic field, as it is always changing to fulfill the unique needs of students. Considering the effects of the internal and external communities, more students are considered nontraditional students. The National Center for Education Statistics (2010) considers nontraditional students as meeting one or more of the following: part-time enrollment, working full time, delayed enrollment, financially independent, having dependents, and is a single parent. In order to engage this population of students, institutions must offer and develop online courses. The growing number of nontraditional students, in addition to the responsibilities associated with this population require nontraditional engagement opportunities. Personally, if Drexel did not offer the MSHE program exclusively online, I would be unable to attend the program. Nontraditional engagement opportunities extend beyond higher education, as many elementary and high schools offer online learning for students; some students within this environment could be considered nontraditional.
Mmeje, Kraner II, and Pearson explore the raising need to understand the cultural and environmental needs of minority students in The Changing Landscape of Higher Education Developmental Approaches to Engaging Emerging Populations. The chapter emphasizes the changing populations amongst post-secondary institutions; white students attending HBCUs, the emergence of Hispanic serving institutions, and nontraditional students. Considering that HBCUs historically serve African American students, engaging students that are not African American is a challenge. However, the emergence of low income white students at HBCUs requires the attention of institutional leadership.
Lastly, adult learners are core members of many campus communities. As a member of the Residence Life team at my current institution, I find myself consistently working to engage this population.
Mmeje, K.C., Newman, C. B., Kramer II, D. A., & Pearson, M.A. (2009). The changing landscape of higher education. In Harper, S. R. and Quaye, S. J. (Eds.). Student Engagement in Higher Education. New York: Routledge (PDF).
National Center for Education Statistics. (Fall, 2010). Success for Adult Students. Public Purpose. Retrieved from: http://www.aascu.org/uploadedFiles/AASCU/Content/Root/MediaAndPublications/PublicPurposeMagazines/Issue/10fall_adultstudents.pdf