Written by Marthann Schulte, one of our February guest authors
One of the fathers in my neighborhood, I’ll call him “Jack,” recently returned to college. He is pursuing his master’s degree in international relations and, because I work in higher education, he has asked me for some tricks and tips. He last attended college over 18 years ago and was a little bit concerned about now being the “old guy” in the class.
Jack’s master’s program has traditional face-to-face class meetings. The classes are held in the late afternoon and evening to accommodate “commuter” and adult students. Most of the students in the program are non-traditional, working adults with families. However, it seems like the professors, administrative offices, and overall expectations of the college personnel are still in the “traditional” mindset.
For example, Jack asked me during the Fall 2014 semester if it was normal for college professors to have office hours. When I said, “Yes, that is normally a requirement for any faculty member,” Jack said, “Well, then why don’t they require a professor who teaches night classes have some office hours after 5 pm? I can’t take off work in the middle of the day, drive to campus, and see the professor during his regular office hours.” I didn’t have a good response. Jack also mentioned his frustrations with various administrative offices on the campus that didn’t have post-5 pm hours to assist adult students.
Another irritant to Jack was the creation of study groups. A particularly challenging statistics course led many students to form study groups. The full time, traditional students met during the regular workday, on campus, and were sometimes visited by the professor when they requested assistance. The non-traditional adult students, like Jack, could not find suitable days/times to meet after their workday. They resorted to forming a sort of email “hotline” to help each other on assignments, but this arrangement was less than ideal. When one of the adult students asked if Blackboard (LMS) space could be used for a discussion thread for the adult students to use, the professor stated that this would not be an acceptable use of that college resource.
Jack shared some additional frustrations that he experienced as an adult, non-traditional student in the “traditional college world.” I listened and shared some of the things that Jack, as an adult student, might request from the college to make it more adult friendly. After making a few requests that went unheeded, Jack told me that he has resigned himself to just getting through his degree as best he could, trying to work within the traditional college expectations while being a non-traditional student.
For me, there is a “silver lining” in what Jack shared with me and what I now share with you, the fine members of ACHE. We get it! We understand the adult learner. We understand those who want and NEED continuing education to improve their lives. We go out of our way to understand our learners, our teachers, and all those who make our innovative programs a success. We adapt. We change. We are the ones who say “Yes, we can do that!” despite continued cuts to resources. And our adult students are all the better for our commitment and skills.
Do you have a story to share? Let us know!
It’s Spring (I’m an optimist!), or at least that’s how we label this semester. Students are back on campuses and online, and ACHE and the 2015 Program Committee are busy putting in place all the components necessary for an engaging Annual Conference and Meeting of colleagues from across the nation and around the world. The dates for this year are November 9-11, 2015, so if you haven’t already, mark your calendars today. More to follow….
First, I want to congratulate the Home Office for their tireless work over the holiday on our Association website. It continues to develop and grow, and I hope that you, as I do, appreciate the work that Ynez and Stan have done to bring both the resources of the Association and the tools available to the membership much closer to your fingertips. The new website is designed to be useful to members and individuals interested in learning more about what defines the Association and what we offer you, the professional continuing educator. I invite you to share our website and its resources with colleagues and staff who you think would benefit from membership in ACHE. Remember: all Institutional Members of ACHE can now connect unlimited staff to their memberships. If you have questions about this change, reach out to Ynez or Stan at the Home Office. Ynez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-325-3599; Stan’s contact information is email@example.com or 405-325-8145.
ACHE Regional meetings will begin shortly: Great Lakes joins the Illinois Council on Continuing Higher Education next week; Great Plains meets in early March in Des Moines, Iowa; and then MidAtlantic and South meet back-to-back in mid-April. I’m earning my wings! I am so excited to be able to attend all the regional meetings, to be with you to hear your concerns, and most importantly to share your successes. If you’ve not yet registered for your regional meeting, I encourage you to do so. It’s where those early seeds of professional development and leadership are planted, groomed, and supported. 'The Network of Leaders for Lifelong Learning' begins with the Regions!
Today, you’ll also find the 2015 Conference Call for Proposals information. I’m grateful to Pam Collins and Tina Marie Coolidge for their work as Program Committee Co-Chairs. In these turbulent times, continuing higher education presents daily opportunities for strategic connections within and among institutions, communities, and regions, while strengthening America’s competitiveness in the global economy. Continuing Higher Educators are in a position to lead their institutions now more than ever in ways that respond to the changing environments and students we serve. What exciting initiatives, programs, or models, are you exploring on your campus, in your state, or your region, with competency based education, credit for prior learning, degree completion, military education, and more? I invite you to review the Call for Proposals information and submit a proposal for the 2015 ACHE 77th Annual Meeting and Conference.
Until next month, I hope you keep safe and warm, and continue always to do the inventive, innovative, and collaboratively successful things that make continuing higher education so meaningful to adult learners, wherever they are on their journey.
Regis M. Gilman
ACHE President, 2015
Ynez Henningsen, 405-325-3599, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stan Khrapak, 405-325-8145, email@example.com
Welcome to 2015! The staff at the ACHE home office have been back on the job this week and are excited about what's going to be happening around the association this coming year. Here are 5 new things we're most excited about:
1) Our new, 2015 President, Regis Gilman, Dean of the School of Continuing Education at Eastern Illinois University. Regis is a very relationship-oriented person, so look for a high-touch, relationship-building conference in St. Louis in November.
2) A new website and member management platform coming in January. Our current website was built by the ever brilliant Bonny Million at the University of Oklahoma in 2008 when the ACHE home office relocated. The site has undergone tweaks over the years, but we're overdue for a facelift. Our new website is part of an integrated member management platform and will consolidate your experience for membership management, registration, and more.
3) A new committee and new committee members! The ACHE board of directors approved the creation of a new Digital Programming and Communications Committee, which will be chaired by the ever wonderful Jennifer Varney at Southern New Hampshire University with the excellent assistance of Leah Ben-Ami of Northeastern University. Other new committee chairs include Emily Lewis at Charter Oak State College; who's taken the reins of our Committee on Inclusiveness, Lisa O'Neal of Murray State University who will tirelessly head up our Awards Committee, and Pam Collins (Philadelphia University) and TinaMarie Coolidge (Drexel University) who are spearheading planning for our 2015 Annual Conference & Meeting in St. Louis.
4) A new Institutional membership model: As reported in November, our ACHE board of directors approved an unlimited staff model for our institutional members. Beginning with our member management platform launch, all member institutions will be able to add unlimited staff to their membership listings. This new model greatly increases the benefits and return on investment of your membership dollar.
5) A new group of mentors and proteges for ACHE's Mentoring Program. Our new pairs were notified of their matches before the holidays, and they're currently making connections. We'll keep you posted on their progress.
So much newness! It's almost too much to handle, but we love the direction all of it takes us. We hope you do too.
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