At a Glance
Non-traditional students admitted to York County School of Technology attend a Non-traditional Student Day prior to enrollment. During this event, they meet and shadow enrolled and experienced non-traditional students who will serve as mentors to them throughout their high school technical program experience.
NOTE: According to the federal law governing and funding career and technical education (Perkins V), a “non-traditional student” is a student preparing for a “non-traditional field,” that is, a career field in which individuals from one gender represent less than 25 percent of the individuals working in the career field.
Since 2018, York County School of Technology (York Tech) has hosted an annual Non-traditional Student Day for students recently admitted to the CTC. The goal of the event is to increase enrollment and retention among non-traditional students.
At the spring semester event, prospective non-traditional students from member school districts meet other incoming and currently enrolled non-traditional students, hear about individual students’ experiences, and engage in typical classroom activities and skill-based activities related to the technical program. Administrators find the experience can set up non-traditional students for a positive educational experience during their tenure at York Tech (grades 9-12).
Structure and Goals of Non-traditional Day
Non-traditional Day students are split into two groups. The agenda for the event, which runs for a half day, includes the following sessions.
- 9:30 Arrival at York Tech
- 9:30-9:45 Introduction and Welcome
- 9:45-10:20 Non-Traditional Student Panel
- 10:25 to 11:15
Group 1: Visit Technical Program of Study
Group 2: Lunch with a non-traditional student representatives and counselors
- 11:25 to 12:10pm
Group 1: Lunch with a non-traditional student representative and counselors
Group 2: Visit Technical Program of Study
- 12:10-12:15pm Closure Program with questions and dismissal to sending schools
During the Student Panel segment, current non-traditional students describe their experiences at York Tech and answer questions. Prior to the session, the student panel members are provided with suggested topics and themes to address. For example, panel members share the challenges associated with pursuing a nontraditional technical career pathway and how they address them, the qualities that have helped them be successful at York Tech, and their goals for the future and how York Tech prepares them to reach those goals.
After the Student Panel session, the students spend the next hour and 45 minutes visiting their prospective technical program of study and then eating lunch with their non-traditional student hosts (current students enrolled in the technical program they are visiting). CTE teachers and current students plan skill-based learning activities related to the technical program for the visiting students to participate in while they are in the technical area. Prospective students are able to experience what the program entails, ask questions specific to the program, and observe peers engaging in typical technical activities. At least two non-traditional students are present in the classroom when the prospective students visit.
In addition to visiting the tech area, prospective students eat lunch with at least one non-traditional student representative and counselors. They use this time to learn more about their program of choice from their experienced peers. They may discuss the details of the program area, the challenges of being in a non-traditional field and how to address them and the general student experience at York Tech.
During the closing session, the visiting students provide feedback to the event organizers and complete a survey. The organizers use this feedback to plan for the next Non-traditional Student Day.
The Development of Non-traditional Student Day
York Tech faculty members developed the Non-traditional Student Day to help increase non-traditional enrollment and to establish a mentorship program that could help increase non-traditional student retention. The Assistant Director, Academy Principal, Director of Student Services, Special Populations Career Counselor and Counseling department at York Tech organized the event. They planned the event over the course of about one year. During this time, they collaborated with counselors at sending schools, keeping them well informed of the event schedule and of their responsibilities. York Tech provided them with a Non-traditional Student Day Counselor Handout. Sending school counselors identified non-traditional students and worked with their school principals to help ensure the accepted non-traditional students could attend Non-traditional Student Day at York Tech.
While planning for Non-traditional Student Day, the organizers needed to address some challenges related to bus transportation logistics and the timing of the event. York Tech utilized its Transportation Coordinator to set up the busses to travel to each middle school to pick up visiting non-traditional students and bring them back after the program. Member school district administrators took care of administering the field trip permission slips.
To best meet the needs of prospective students, the organizers had to rethink when to host Non-traditional Student Day. York Tech first hosted the event in November after prospective students had indicated interest in attending York Tech at Open House or on an application. However, the organizers found that hosting the fall event for all non-traditional students interested in applying to York County School of Technology gave these students a false sense that they were already admitted to the school. (York Tech is unique in that they have more students applying for technical programs at the school than they have student seats available.) Once realizing this was the case, the administrators decided to move the event to March and focus it on the admitted non-traditional students.
York Tech Assistant Director Scott Rogers identifies several keys to success that other CTCs should consider if they want to implement a version of Non-traditional Student Day. He emphasizes the need to hold information sessions for the instructors and current non-traditional students who will be involved in the event. They should know the schedule, their exact responsibilities and tips on how to provide the best possible experience for the admitted non-traditional students with whom they will interact.
Mr. Rogers also cites the importance of ensuring the visiting students have a chance to ask questions of the student panel, of teachers and of other non-traditional students currently enrolled in their program of choice. In addition, they should shadow current non-traditional students. These opportunities provide the admitted students with a full and realistic picture of what they can expect if they enroll at York Tech. Overall, a non-traditional student day event should provide admitted students with a positive and honest experience that sheds light on attending York Tech.
By attending Non-Traditional Student Day, admitted students can reaffirm their decision to enroll, experience the resources in place to support them, and recognize that they will not be the only non-traditional student within their program.