Opening Doors: Providing Support for Mature Students at an Urban University
- New Jersey City University

September 2013

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation welcomes a new partnership with New Jersey City University in support of non-traditional students at its Jersey City campus. Located in a thriving urban environment, NJCU's mission is to provide an affordable, high-quality education to non-traditional students who might not otherwise have access to higher education. The Newcombe Foundation is proud to join with NJCU in providing scholarship assistance for mature students who are striving to complete their undergraduate degrees.

The following article was submitted by Larry Ladutke, Ph.D., Coordinator of Research, New Jersey City University.

Despite dramatic change and growth, the character of New Jersey City University (NJCU) remains rooted in a commitment to opportunity. Eighty years ago the institution challenged tradition, establishing itself as a champion of first-generation college students – individuals who are determined to lift themselves and, often, their families to a new level of prosperity and success. NJCU's core student body remains non-traditional: the average age of NJCU undergraduates is 26 and most are the first in their families to attend college. NJCU is proud of its status as the State's only public, four-year Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), as well as its status as a Minority Serving Institution (MSI.)

NJCU students gather outside the school's library

Many of NJCU's mature students come to the University from another institution—often a community college from which they have earned an Associate degree. The University's support for these students begins with a special Instant Decision Day for transfer applicants. The Transfer Resource Center (TRC) serves to make the process as seamless as possible, providing transfer students with an orientation designed for their needs, transfer credit evaluation, challenge exam information, and referrals to academic and support services provided both on and off-campus. The TRC has evening hours two days per week during the fall and spring semesters.

Mature students have the opportunity to apply both previous college courses and professional experience toward their credit requirements at NJCU. Blanket credit is awarded to recipients of A.A. and A.S. degrees from New Jersey colleges. The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) allows mature students to take any of 35 exams through which they demonstrate their knowledge of college level material gained through independent work or experience in order to earn up to 96 credits toward a degree at NJCU. They may also apply up to 12 foreign language credits toward their NJCU degrees through NYU Language Proficiency examinations. Veterans are eligible to receive credit for their experience serving our nation. During their studies at NJCU, the Cooperative Education Program allows students to earn college credit while gaining valuable professional experience at leading corporations.

NJCU is especially proud of its Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Dual Admission program with Hudson County Community College (HCCC). With Title V support from the U.S. Department of Education, this program allows for a smooth transition from an Associate degree program to a Bachelor's program, maximizing the number of transfer credits possible and ensuring that students take the appropriate courses to complete an NJCU degree in fields such as accounting, biology, chemistry, geoscience, health science, management, mathematics, or physics in a timely manner.

Mature students are also encouraged to take advantage of the many other academic support services offered at the University. The Center for Student Success, for example, offers access to peer and professional tutoring services and academic resources to attain the skills, strategies, and behaviors necessary to improve academic standing and identify appropriate career objectives. Supplemental Instruction (SI) is also provided for those challenging courses which form the foundation of many fields of study; extra support helps students studying physics, chemistry, and biology, for example, master the math skills that they will all need to pursue further studies in the natural sciences. SI and tutoring are both available at no additional cost.

NJCU recognizes that non-traditional students often have commitments to both work and family. As a result, scheduling conflicts may make it difficult to complete the courses necessary to graduate in a timely manner. The University is committed to offering hundreds of convenient and flexible online classes. Outside commitments also prevent many mature students from taking advantage of traditional study abroad programs. NJCU has therefore developed shorter, less expensive for-credit and noncredit study abroad opportunities. The NJCU Foundation has established a fund to help offset the costs associated with these trips. The Office of Academic Services for Evening Students assists students in accessing academic support services, provides general university information, and makes administrative forms available until 10:00 p.m. on weekdays during fall and spring semesters.

The Children's Learning Center provides services to approximately 100 children each semester and serves as a training site for nearly 60 undergraduate students pursuing degrees in education. Established in 1982, the Center is fully licensed by the State of New Jersey and serves as a retention tool for undergraduate students with children. The Center charges NJCU students only $3 per hour per child. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify. The Speicher-Rubin Women's Center for Equity and Diversity was established in 1973 and remains committed to creating an inclusive community where diverse cultures, experiences and perspectives are respected and valued. The Speicher-Rubin Center provides support programs that serve the intellectual, social, personal, and cultural needs of all students while paying particular attention to women, as well as under-represented and marginalized groups. Services include support groups and grief counseling, monthly workshops, assistance with resume writing, returning to school and personal growth, LGBT resources, and sexual assault resources, as well as referrals for rape and domestic violence crisis intervention in the local community.

The Office of Veteran Affairs is proud to support NJCU students who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The University provides services that these students need as they face the many challenges of returning to school and civilian life after serving our country. The Office also promotes the Student Veterans Organization, which creates a sense of community and provides veterans with opportunities to connect with their peers. Ever since its origins as a teachers' college in the late 1920s, New Jersey City University has remained committed to providing non-traditional and economically disadvantaged students with an affordable, high-quality education. The University has grown over the decades, both to provide an expanded range of educational opportunities and to address the new problems facing mature students and other disadvantaged groups. NJCU is proud to join with the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation to continue its core mission of serving these communities.

For further information about NJCU and its support of nontraditional students, please visit www.njcu.edu.

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