Kean University

Posted on May 1, 2011

A Tradition of Serving Non-traditional Students

Kean University opened its doors in 1855 as the Newark Normal School, providing an answer to the urgent need for qualified teachers in Newark’s public schools. Today, while continuing to graduate more teachers than any other institution in New Jersey, Kean has expanded to provide high quality higher education in an array of fields to over 10,000 undergraduates, reaching out to and including a significant number of mature women. Since 1988, the Newcombe Foundation has been pleased to partner with Kean University to provide scholarship assistance to women from diverse backgrounds who are seeking to earn their degrees.

As a public liberal arts and research university, Kean continues to uphold a tradition of service and opportunity for all students. Committed to growing and sustaining a diverse and inclusive learning environment, 28% of Kean’s undergraduates are non-traditional students who bring to the campus wide-ranging life experiences and a deep appreciation for their educational opportunities.

Kean’s Charlotte W. Newcombe Scholars are prime examples of successful non-traditional students. Current Newcombe Scholar Maureen Peterson reflected on the significance of returning to school as a mature woman and receiving this recognition. Maureen writes, “I always wanted to go to college, but after high school a few decades ago, it was out the question. Seven years ago, I chanced going back and I loved it and did very well academically. Receiving this scholarship not only helped finance my education, but most importantly validated my ambitions to pursue a writing career. I expect to graduate in May 2011 summa cum laude and be recognized at our annual Honors Convocation. After graduation, I will complete for publication the two books I have been writing.”


Maureen Peterson, left, joins other Newcombe Scholars at Kean’s Scholars Recognition Ceremony in Fall 2010.

Many non-traditional students enter the University through EPIC (Entry Program into College), a special admissions program for men and women age twenty-five and older who demonstrate the potential, motivation and perseverance to be successful in college. At its inception in the 1980s, EPIC served only female students. During the early stages of the EPIC program, the University recognized that a major obstacle for returning students entering the college environment was the lack of standardized test scores (SAT). The EPIC program allows students to be considered for admission without this test, but instead offers a Kean placement test to assess each student’s ability in reading, writing and math. EPIC provides academic advisement for novice students and eases the transition into the university environment, creating a plan for studies to begin on a part-time basis of less than twelve credits a semester, and then allowing the student to opt for a full-time load once eighteen to twenty-four credits have been successfully completed. Workshops that focus on time management and various life skills have also become a hallmark of the EPIC program.

EPIC also fosters a sense of community with two dedicated fall semester sections of the credit-bearing course, “Transition to Kean,” offered exclusively for non-traditional age students with an additional section of the course offered in the spring. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this course is the opportunity for thirty non-traditional students to network on a weekly basis. The course focuses on topics such as time management and study skills, financial management, registration advisement, presentation and research skills, career exploration, and campus management.

Realizing the value of opportunity, EPIC program graduates have given back to the University by endowing a scholarship for succeeding generations of deserving students like themselves.

Another special feature of the University is its student governance structure. One of the most influential groups on campus is the Graduate and Part-Time Student Council, a group comprised almost exclusively of non-traditional students. With a unified voice, the unique needs of this population are heard through the Council, often influencing how student funds are allocated. In addition, this group selects recipients and awards ten scholarships annually to graduate and part-time students. Recently, a new group has been formed on campus, Returning Older Student Association, which provides an additional opportunity to develop community as well as peer and life-skill support for non-traditional students.

Recognizing the current needs of the student body, Kean has expanded the selection of Friday evening and Saturday courses to create a functioning weekend college. As an enticement, students are offered discounted tuition for enrolling in these less populated class times.

Kean University also offers a comprehensive on-campus day care center that is used by students and faculty alike. The day care center operates year round and offers a secure educational environment for the young children of the student body and campus staff.

These programs, along with the dedication of Kean’s diverse and accomplished faculty and staff, play an instrumental role in positioning Kean as a world-class university that offers every student a chance to live the American Dream and earn a degree. For further information about Kean University, please visit their website.