This piece was written by Kayla Ohmes and Farah Habli, doctoral candidates in Higher Education Administration at Saint Louis University. “Promoting ‘Traditional’ Student Services to Degree-Seeking Evening Students: Examining barriers of your unit in reaching this growing demographic” was originally presented at the ACHE annual conference, November 2015 in Saint Louis, MO. We look forward to seeing you at ACHE 2016 in New Orleans for even more fantastic discussions.
There is a shortage of student services made available to students who enroll in evening courses. While daytime students have access to these offices with traditional 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. business hours, evening students often do not. These student services include but are not limited to: academic advising, career resources, Cashier/Bursar office, tutoring and writing assistance, disability/accommodation services, financial aid counseling, and student health services. While many institutions promote evening programs as flexible and convenient to the working professional and adult student, this flexibility often comes at a price – a campus full of student services offices that are closed by the time the evening student arrives to campus.
Examining Barriers of Your Unit in Reaching This Growing Demographic
This is a series of questions to consider when evaluating the student services available to evening students on your campus.
- What are the strategies that you are implementing or want to implement in your institution?
- How are you going to implement those strategies?
- How will you know these strategies are successful?
- What implications do these strategies have for the institution’s future plans? (human capital/personnel, budget, etc.)
- How does supporting the needs of evening learners impact the institution?
- What student resources are available to adult, evening students at your institution?
- Where do you see a need for improvement in student services for evening students on your campus?
- What are the barriers you anticipate when re-structuring student services to fit the needs of adult learners?
- Are you aware of academic advising services for evening students on your campus?
- Do you have experience or thoughts on the online models of academic advising (offered as a class via Moodle, Blackboard, etc.)?
Remember, even small steps can make a big impact to these students. Consider the following:
1. A dedicated page on your unit’s website that specifically list the campus resources that are made available to evening students. Office hours, contact information, and campus address are helpful.
2. Consider working with your Parking and ID Card Services office to allow students to take care of these action items during their Orientation. This may require Parking and Card Services to stay open an additional hour or two in the evening, but with advanced notice (and this occurring only once a term), there is a greater likelihood to accommodate the request. From a customer service standpoint, this partnership among units goes far with the students!
3. Consider adjusting hours in your unit one or two nights each week. An hour or two extended into the evening can make a huge impact on delivering student services to evening students. This is particularly valuable in areas such as academic advising that aid in promoting meaningful student-staff interaction and fostering student success. Be sure to market the change to students as a way to emphasis customer service and a nod of recognition to the various roles your students are juggling (school, work, family, etc.).
Kayla Ohmes works at the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University and manages all aspects of Student Services and Academic Advising for graduate business students. She also serves as an instructor for a First-Year Experience seminar and is a doctoral candidate in the Higher Education Administration program at Saint Louis University.
Farah Habli is a graduate of the Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon, where she earned master's degrees in Educational Leadership. Currently, she is a doctoral student at Saint Louis University in the College of Education, where she is pursuing her PhD in higher education administration. Her primary research focuses on recruiting and the mobility of international students to higher education institutions.