Additional Resources | Advising for Non-Traditional Students

Academic Success

Similar to first-year students, non-traditional students need early exposure to U of M academic policies and added guidance in relation to course selection and credit load in their first term/year to ensure steady progress to degree. Encourage students to bookmark the following sites and reference these resources, especially if there’s a history of W or non-passing grades. Discuss college or department specific benchmarks for enrollment in consecutive studies such as math, science, languages and determine that appropriate prerequisites are in place toward placement exams.:

Admission

Typically, those not yet admitted tend to think of UMTC as one, unified institution. Both students applying as first-year or transfer students may find this information on the UMTC transfer process helpful:

Advising

Advisors in the College of Continuing Education (CCE), especially its Individualized Degree Programs (Inter-College Program/ICP, Multidisciplinary Studies/MdS as well as our Applied & Professional Studies degrees), tend to see a higher proportion of non-traditional students. Call CCE’s Information Center at 612-624-4000 and ask to be referred to an advisor who works with non-admitted, non-traditional or student veterans - or provide student with CCE’s contact information

APAS

Non-traditional students, especially those working full-time, are more likely to create a shadow system (e.g., Excel spreadsheet) to track their academic progress than routinely review their APAS report. Advisers need to explain how the University uses the APAS toward degree clearance. Encourage appointments at each enrollment queue if students are unlikely to self-monitor this record.

Career/Internship/Post-baccalaureate Study

Non-traditional students should be encouraged toward career services advising along with a timeline similar to full-time/traditional students. Often, non-traditional students are so focused on balancing school with other responsibilities that post-baccalaureate planning to their final semester. College-specific career center advisors offer a range of services to assist non-traditional students in their exploration of employment or graduate-level study.

Disability

Non-traditional students may self-disclose a need for affiliation with the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Others, especially those with an affective or learning style diagnosis, may feel a sense of stigma and reluctance to seek accommodation. Especially if there’s a history of W or non-passing grades, it’s important to determine the reasons for such a pattern. If DRC affiliation will bolster academic success, encourage DRC contact as early as possible.  

Enrollment

If there is a gap of two or more years in college-level study, non-traditional students may be eager to complete their degrees as quickly as possible, especially if their access to part-time financial aid is limited. Yet, it’s important to assess the student’s other responsibilities and explain the number of study hours typically required for academic success

  • Those who are best served by part-time enrollment should be counseled as to financial aid implications and asked to complete a 13-credit exemption request.
  • As needed, help students navigate the Course Search tool in order find courses with schedules or formats that permit balance between academic and work/family life.

Finances

Non-traditional students who are admitted, or planning toward admission to a degree program, should be encouraged to complete the FAFSA as the majority of them will be eligible for some form of financial aid. Once a student’s FAFSA information has been transmitted to the University, a One Stop counselor will be able to assist the student with their individual financial situation and give a better understanding remaining aid eligibility. Students should also review the One Stop website to review how to receive financial aid at the University.

Students should be aware that their enrollment level will affect their aid eligibility. The minimum required enrollment levels for each type of aid are outlined on the One Stop. Admitted, part-time students (i.e., those planning to take fewer than 13 credits/term) will need to submit a 13-credit exemption request so as not to be billed for full-time tuition and fees.

Non-traditional students should understand that there will be aid offered to them automatically based on their FAFSA. Beyond that, there’s also a significant amount of aid they can seek individually. One example of this would be to look into scholarships. Students can use the UMTC Undergraduate Scholarship Search Tool to find their scholarship matches and they should also talk directly with their college to find out if they are eligible for any collegiate scholarships.

Since the College of Continuing Education (CCE) supports a large percentage of non-traditional students, its financial aid information may also prove to be useful as it breaks-down aid offered to students based on their FAFSA versus aid students will need to apply for or take action on individually to receive.
CCE also has scholarship options specifically for non-traditional students.

  • Jessica Haensch, CCE’s Scholarship/Financial Aid Coordinator, is happy to be a resource for any non-traditional students considering admission or enrollment via the College of Continuing Education.
  • Mike Arieta, Academic Support Resources Financial Counselor, can be contacted by advisors of students admitted to other colleges.

Flexibility

Advising toward a four-year graduation timeline may be in a student’s best interest in relation to tuition/policy changes, yet such a pace and credit load might actually undermine a non-traditional student’s success at the undergraduate or graduate academic levels. Revisit information specific to Enrollment.  If non-academic responsibilities peak unexpectedly, a planned short-term Leave of Absence will better serve a student academically and financially than a transcript with chronic Ws or below “passing” grades.

Graduation

Because non-traditional students may be balancing many life aspects beyond academia, strategic email outreach or holds may be needed to ensure that such students meet with their advisor prior to the end of their last enrollment queue. At that point,  the advisor/college can confirm status toward degree clearance and submission of the Application for Degree.  Advisors should also clarify college-related information on degree clearance and commencement or graduation reception events.

Information Technology Literacy

Technology is an integral part of most U of M functions. Even if a non-traditional student has made use of technology in a work setting, becoming familiar with UMTC technology expectations might take some time. Prior to engagement in their first term, help students avoid academic and financial problems by making sure that they’ve established their umn.edu email account and are routinely accessing it. The U of M IT site’s “Getting Started Guide” provides thorough, step-by-step information on account management as well as  IT assistance/locations/hours.

Share links to tutorials, such as those listed below, as relevant - being careful not to overwhelm students tech-anxious students at this early stage.

Orientation

Colleges vary in their orientation requirements, especially for students admitted or readmitted spring semester. Work/family responsibilities, distance from campus, or prior enrollment/admission at the U of M-Twin Cities may be reasons why some non-traditional students may view orientation as an inconvenience. However, it’s important that they’re confirmed ready to engage in their first semester as an admitted student with, at a minimum, a phone-based, Skype or Google Hangout orientation.

Returning U of M Students

Often when a student seeks return admission to the UMTC, their point of contact, or an advisor’s, is the College of Continuing Education (CCE). However, if a student was in close proximity to completing their UMTC major/degree and wishes to complete that degree (i.e., within 15-semester credits), it may be best to encourage exploration of the student’s original college/major. CCE has a 24-credit post-admission residency requirement which may extend a returning U of M student’s timeline to a degree.

Students with Parental/Family Responsibilities

Sometimes it is clear that a student has parental responsibilities. They are returning to complete their degrees after their children have reached elementary school age or have expressed concern about the impact of child care in relation to educational finances or studies. Some students might have responsibilities for others in their family system, and see themselves as non-traditional.  However, because of the nature of the responsibilities and the family members involved, they believe they are ineligible for services toward academic and family success.

Encourage students who are pregnant, parenting, or serving as a caregiver to the Student Parent Help Center. Student testimonials at the Student Parent Help Center (SPHC) are most often cited by “non-traditional” students and describe the myriad ways in which Susan Warfield and her team have addressed issues ranging from child care grants to economic/food/housing support, holiday gift sponsorship, study space and community.

Transfer Course Evaluation

Frequently, questions arise in relation to transferable courses/credits. In order to determine the status of Admissions’ transfer evaluation,  generate a What If? APAS - choosing Transfer Record of Articulated Courses (TRAC), from the drop-down list of choices, after selecting a campus, and college or program affiliation.  Generate a report - then a printer-friendly version of the APAS report. The TRAC APAS provides confirmation of which courses have been evaluated and accepted toward credit. Credits not accepted, or in need of department-specific evaluation, will also be shown.

All religious studies transfer coursework must be evaluated by CLA’s Religious Studies program.

Here are key contacts within Admissions and their respective areas of expertise:

Undecided Students

For a variety of reasons, and at varying times in a student’s academic progress, they may experience a sense of disorientation toward original goals. When exploration of self in relation to major or career path is needed, and beyond the scope of traditional advising, the Center for Academic Planning & Exploration (CAPE) is available to help any enrolled UMTC student. CAPE offers courses, short-term coaching, and online resources for students as well as staff/faculty. CAPE coaches receive regular training in relation to all UMTC colleges and majors/minors.

Veterans

University Veterans Services, within OneStop, is the resource for admitted students.

Prospective U of M student/veteran questions can be answered within Admissions.

Susan Svatek, in the College of Continuing Education, is the liaison, for student veterans enrolled on non-admitted status, who are seeking advice toward admission. Non-admitted veterans can receive two months of tuition benefits.