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A New Chapter in Student Affairs Engagement Written by You

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Martha Harper

August 12, 2018

As the Chair of the Adult Learners and Student’s with Children Knowledge Community, I want to share with the wider NASPA community members an opportunity to publish while increasing the sparse amount of literature available to professionals who support adult learners.

I have been working on public four-year college campuses with nontraditional students for about 14 years; first at Virginia Commonwealth University as the Off Campus Student Services Coordinator, and then at Austin Peay State University as the first Coordinator of their Adult, Nontraditional and Transfer Student Center.  Now as an Academic Advisor, back on the campus of VCU, I am still searching for how to get the adult learners on my caseload engaged outside the classroom.  On both campuses, I have been contacted by the distance learning division for ideas on how to engage students who are experiencing college from a completely virtual campus. Eight years ago, and even three years ago, I was at a loss for how to collaborate.  It Seemed like a good idea to call on my experience, considering the virtual population is almost 100% adult and totally off campus, but the structure of higher education meant the tools I had for student retention were physical spaces, social/educational programming, and the personal counseling skills I provided for students seeking help.   

All of us, who work in Student Affairs, work with undergraduate adult learners, whether we are aware of it or not.  Hidden deeper is a smaller population of traditionally aged students, who are also parenting.  These, non-residential, mainly millenial, students are moving quickly toward education that fits working adults and parents, yet their core needs remain; therefore, the role of student affairs remains.  We know, after decades of research, in order for a student to stick with a program, from beginning to end, they need feelings of belonging, and that their academic success matters.  They need faculty, staff, and peers who will praise their success and encourage then through their failures.  They need to adopt an identity with a unique group of people who have been through something challenging together.  

I am excited to share with you an open call for writing a chapter of a new book slated to publish next Summer.  The working title is “Rethinking Student Affairs for Online Students: Leveraging Technology to Support Students from a Distance.”  You, as a Student Affairs professional, have the opportunity to share your ideas and best practices.

The editor is seeking innovative and exciting proposals from student and academic affairs professionals who can share best practices for supporting and engaging students who learn online. Online learners is one of the fastest growing student groups within higher education. While student and academic affairs practitioners and professionals are charged with supporting, advocating, and leading college students through successful postsecondary experiences, the way in which that is done for online students looks different. Given the unique nature of supporting online students while meeting the same learning outcomes of the different functional areas within student affairs, proposals are sought from professionals who have mastered best practices or who have ideas on how student and academic affairs practitioners can provide similar services they currently provide to traditional on-campus students, to students who are attending college online. What is new about this book is the targeted focus on online learners in higher education and how different functional areas within student affairs can re-think how authentic services can be provided to students from a distance.

Timeline: yipes!! A 1000 word proposal is due by This Wednesday August 15th. If accepted, you will have from December 31st to April 15th to write the chapter, so if you have a burning idea, go for it! Read the guidelines and submit here.

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