The need for a new Strategic Planning for Adult Learners Committee showcased the need for a better and more comprehensive approach facing the challenges among nontraditional students during last week’s Whitewater Student Government meeting.
Associate Professor of women’s studies, Lauren Smith, discussed the declining enrollment of adult learners affecting the overall enrollment.
Students work more hours and carry family responsibilities that may not allow them to fully engage in a campus experience as they once might have been able to in years past, Smith said.
Traditional-age students tend to succeed with UW-Whitewater’s academic programming and its geographic location, but meeting the needs of adult students has presented more challenges. “Even for traditional-age students, the student characteristics are changing. A larger proportion of potential students will be nontraditional in one way or another or have needs that will overlap with nontraditional students,” said Smith.
Program delivery matters as it is difficult for nontraditional students to navigate the bureaucracy of higher education. Close advising relationships are necessary as they are navigating balancing unique academic challenges with their already necessary family life. More targeted messaging and attention to their unique needs are vital.
“The best practice would be to be to have a strong internal unit to prevent duplication of efforts and failures to communicate,” said Smith. “Centralized staffing and authority and a centralized adult learning program are more likely to increase enrollment and increase revenue.”
The committee proposed that a cross-visual council be created to address faced problems without changing the overall structure and will allow better communication within the decentralized pieces of adult learners on campus.
The goal is that the new committee would report three times a year and report findings to the chancellor and other leadership as needed. They would guide the already existing Adult Student Outreach Program and all units that work with adult learners can lead campus-wide talks concerning adult learners and academic programs for adults.
No action was taken on this presentation.
WSG Diversity Advocate intern, Mahogany Gayle, continued the meeting by summarizing her position in conversing with underrepresented groups on campus. Any improvements to these groups are addressed to her.
“Everything that I collect in those meetings, or in Qualtrics, does go through Vice President [Ben] Larson. I relay those to him and he works with me to relay those to the proper people,” said Gayle. “I’ve been excited to have those conversations with people. I think it’s really important that the Student Government continues to have those one on one conversations.”
The Resolution of Support for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, submitted by the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Will Hinz, was discussed after.
The resolution proposed that WSG stood in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community against all forms of discrimination, hate, and violence.
“I felt the need as to the many messages around campus, as well as things happening around the world, as well as in this country, it’s important for us to identify acts of hate and to stand up against that,” said Hinz.
The resolution passed unanimously.
WSG meetings are held every Monday. Visit https://www.facebook.com/uwwWSG or https://www.uww.edu/wsg for more information on the senate.