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Friday, Jul 25, 2014

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A nontraditional support system

Lancaster students form a support group for nontraditional students


Lori Dunlap and Jennifer Seifert know what it’s like to return to school as adults with job and family responsibilities.

These Lancaster Campus seniors formed Adults Belong in College (ABC) to support returning adult students and to share their experiences and methods of coping with the challenges and rewards of the college experience.

According to Dunlap, a women and gender studies major, ABC is open to any student coming to college after a break, however long that break might be.

“Nontraditional does not have an age requirement,” she said.

Dunlap also noted what she termed “commonality among nontraditional students:” scheduling, budget issues, smoothing the transition (into college) and the need for mentoring.

The ABC building block logo symbolizes learning, according to Seifert, who is majoring in communication studies and deaf studies interpreting. She noted that returning to school is much like the kindergarten experience.

“It’s a learning experience, with someone there to guide you, for support,” she said.

Seifert stressed that the group is not about tightly scheduled meetings, projects or fundraisers.

“We’ve decided to focus our energies on brown bag lunches or dinners, depending on time frame, and speakers at Ohio University Lancaster and Pickerington,” She said.

Their first gathering of winter quarter will be a brown bag lunch on Jan.26, from noon until 1 p.m., room 414, Brasee Hall on the Lancaster Campus.

Kellie Demmler, a former nontraditional student and graduate of both the Lancaster Campus and Harvard University, will discuss the use of technology in the classroom and online.

The ABC organizers acknowledge that the busy schedules of nontraditional students may not allow for many face-to-face meeting opportunities. So, the organization has made their online presence a priority. ABC has a Facebook account* (found by searching Adults Belong in College) and have established an interactive blog for open dialogue* through Wordpress.

The group also is sponsoring a T-shirt design contest called the “Top 10 Tee at OUPC,” a fun way to involve students in thinking about why they attend the Pickerington Center.

Funny and serious reasons for attending the center may be placed in the drop boxes around the center or e-mailed to dawes@ohio.edu.  The selected entries will be printed on a T-shirt, and students who submitted the entries will win a free shirt. There is no entry limit per student.

Dunlap and Seifert appreciate the support of Communication Studies Instructor Pam Kaylor and ABC advisor, Pickerington Center Director Leigh Atkinson, and Lancaster Campus Transition Advisor Kim Jeffers as well as faculty members as all of them work together to help serve the diverse group that are nontraditional students.