Span Plan is dedicated to fostering an environment that empowers undergraduate nontraditional students to navigate their unique educational path by providing access to financial and academic resources, specialized guidance, and engagement opportunities that develop confidence beyond the classroom.
Span Plan will advocate on behalf of our undergraduate students with departments across campus to build a strong foundation of support that addresses nontraditional student situations and fosters an environment of inclusion. This will be accomplished by providing students the opportunity to gather and share experiences to create community, forming programs that address the unique barriers of accessing resources, and acknowledging the needs of different learning aspirations. Span Plan will ensure nontraditional students are valued as a dynamic asset in the classroom and their needs are addressed through the services and programs, we provide to assist with degree completion.
Span Plan serves undergraduate students who identify with one or more of the following attributes:
- Are Married
- Have children/are expecting
- File the FAFSA as Independent or are age 24+
- Have a delayed college enrollment from high school of 2+ years or other education gap
- Transferred to Purdue at age 23+
Each semester, Purdue West Lafayette’s enrollment of nontraditional students hovers around 700 domestic students. Our programs and services build from three pillars; access, opportunity, and resources to help our nontraditional students succeed in the classroom.
The door to education can seem even heavier to open as a nontraditional undergraduate student. Span Plan is here to help students reach their education goals by clearing a path and ensuring they have a support system on their journey!
- Campus Welcome Program: A 3-day orientation program for new and returning students held each fall. Filled with sessions from campus partners and resource access, to building community and riding the city bus, we cover it all at NO cost.
- Education and Social Workshops: A variety of connection points were held throughout the school year that fill our students’ academic toolbox and create connections to essential campus success tools and build their network of student peers.
The opportunity to be a student while juggling family life, jobs and other commitments that can be polarizing for nontraditional students is important for their success. Span Plan students can engage in a community of support from our office and their peers.
- Span Plan Student Coaches hold paid positions in our office while taking on a peer mentoring role. Beginning fall 2019, our coaching program now employs two student coaches who provide intentional support and outreach to more than 700 students each semester! While offering flexible paid school positions specifically for our students, our coaches have been instrumental as ambassadors through direct phone calls, office hours, and personal notes in the mail to our entire nontraditional student population.
- Advocacy is essential to providing equal opportunity for all students. Our efforts to address subpar lactation space standards resulted in additional cleaning measures and standards being provided for these spaces. An increase in staff and faculty contacts on behalf of expecting parents is allowing us to intervene and make sure our parenting students have options to complete their degree. Campus partner outreach and conversations helped us create a new parenting student space in Purdue Libraries, education on student schedule building, and continued growth of our students during Nontraditional Student Week.
- Nontraditional Student Week and service programs help us build our own student community and develop those relationships throughout the campus and greater community. While our events for Nontraditional Student Week were a little different with the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to use that time to focus on our students’ stories with the administration at Purdue with small luncheons. This opportunity to highlight successes and challenges gave a vivid voice to the nontraditional student experience. Our students’ stories were also highlighted as we continued integrating an annual service project. In September of 2022, Span Plan hosted a Versiti blood drive, during which all 36 opportunities to donate blood were filled.
From financial to academic resources, Span Plan continues to innovate and look for effective ways to meet student needs.
- Scholarship support specifically for nontraditional students has fully implemented a renewable model that allows students to make better decisions about their finances. This, coupled with more intentional education regarding financial aid resources, policies and appeals that directly impact nontraditional students is allowing critical resources to get to our students.
- Student resources are continuously being developed to assist students. While Span Plan does not have a physical center, we are utilizing available space to respond to student needs by providing a gathering area for studying, quiet time and even a microwave to heat up lunch.
- Campus partners play a critical role in assisting Span Plan in delivering important programs and information. More than 10 partners held 2+ sessions that helped highlight and give a face to many resources on campus; from budgeting, using Brightspace to working with CAPS, the continued support and time given to these sessions built for nontraditional students are critical for students to make connections to the resources they need.
As a result of participating in the programming and outreach efforts of Span Plan, nontraditional undergraduate students will:
- Grow in their ability to effectively navigate campus and access resources available to enhance their experience and success;
- Engage in a community of their peers and reduce feelings of isolation through academic and collective gatherings;
- Build leadership and networking skills by participating in student groups and community partnerships that help them to advocate and engage beyond their peers and in both the campus and community at large; and
- Demonstrate improved persistence rates among their nontraditional peers due to a reduction of institutional barriers such as technology and resource access.
Notable Changes From 2020-21 Academic Year
- Span Plan gained a new director (Keara Wilson) in April of 2022
- In August of 2022, we held a very successful campus welcome program with a variety of information sessions with 11+ campus and community partners
- Across the 7 campus welcome programming opportunities over 3 days, we had an average attendance of 75%
- Family/guest friendly programming opportunities are gaining a lot more interest/engagement/attendance:
- Fall 2021’s Exploration Acres outing had a total of 6 Span Plan student attendees (seems as though guests were not kept track of for 2021), whereas fall 2022’s Exploration Acres outing had 12 Span Plan student attendees who brought with them a total of 28 guests for an overall attendance of 40.
- Student space usage continues to grow and expand. Over the summer of 2022, Span Plan acquired three new space areas from Student Success Programs, which resulted in a restructuring of Span Plan physical space.
- There is now a designated student coach office more proportionate to the number of working coaches, with the ability to accommodate one working coach and to take one-on-one meetings with students to accommodate for confidential conversations.
- The new student space has allowed us to accommodate one more study/work area, we are now able to accommodate four people working/studying in the student space at a time. There is the addition of a workspace that has university equipment for students who don’t have their own technology to be able to log on and study or work, a station for those who are bringing their own technology with them, and two tabletop workstations for those who have books and papers to spread out for things like math work. This space also accommodates for those just stopping by for a snack, to heat up and eat their lunch, etc.
- Over the summer we also took a consult room with complete privacy (no windows and a lockable door) and chose to address the lack of undergraduate student specific lactations spaces and pilot an undergraduate student specific lactation space in Krach. We continue to work on building the amenities of the room and as of now have achieved the minimum features you want associated with a lactation space: a clean, private area, a table with a chair, a comfortable armchair as a secondary seating option, access to electrical outlets. Our next goal for the space is to continue to add more desirable features like a refrigerator/freezer, reading material, alternative lighting, a sounds machine, etc. There is access to a full sink within Krach currently. Our hopes for this space may shift overtime with utilization, and as of right now it has also served as a family friendly space for parenting students to come with their children to study in a nonjudgmental space. To our knowledge, this is the first and only undergraduate student specific lactation space designated on campus.
- From August of 2021 through February of 2022 there were a total of 50 touchpoints, 6 virtual events and a total of 310 student interactions.
- Also, during this same time frame 119 unique students participated in an average of 2.62 engagement opportunities.
- Our student space is gaining more utilization that it has historically. In the fall 2022 semester alone so far, we have had 177 visits for a total of 348.15 hours of utilization Monday through Friday from 8am until 5pm.
- A couple of nice anecdotes:
- The student who utilized the study space the most in terms of visits in fall 2022 is a military-connected student we share with the VSC, who is a new/first time Purdue student, who completed Span Plan’s campus welcome who in the fall semester has utilized the student space 44 times for a total of 86.75 hours logged in the space.
- Another student has been to the student space 37 times so far this semester and logged 102.9 hours total spent studying in the space.
- A couple of nice anecdotes:
- Scholarship Data Points:
- During the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters we awarded a total of $3,100 of scholarship support amongst 3 parenting students.
- During the fall 2021 and spring of 2022 semesters, we awarded a total of $90,407 in academic scholarship support to a total of 61 unique students.
- In summer 2022 we awarded a total of $8,079 in academic scholarship support to a total of 17 unique students.
- Span Plan went back to mostly in-person programming, making virtual accommodations when necessary during the 21-22 academic year, though people were eager to engage in person.
- The Span Plan Student Coaching program continued with two student coaches employed during the past year. They made phone calls during the summer of 2022 to help promote a campus welcome. They also sent out mailers for birthdays, words of encouragement, and are available for one-on-one peer support on an as needed basis.
- The move to renewable scholarships continues to show great effectiveness in the persistence and graduation rates of our recipients. Beginning January 2021, a second scholarship cycle was added to provide more opportunity to apply for scholarship funding.
- 49 students received up to $2,500 in academic scholarships for 2020-21 (increase from 35 students in 2019-2020).
- In an effort to better understand how we are doing and build our benchmarking abilities, Span Plan continues to be part of a Big10 Peer Network. While still in its infancy, this network has proven to be highly collaborative and appreciated among our collegiate networks.
- Held summer scholarship workshops to prepare students for the scholarship application deadline
- Partnered with Libraries to create a family friendly space in HSSE library
- Created a 3-day Campus Welcome Program
Span Plan is intentionally working to build data collection that helps to best tell our student story. Due to the nature of work, it is important to consider that relationship between large data and personal experiences is paramount to accurately depicting the life of a nontraditional student.
Annual Data Collections
- Span Plan has continued new and returning student identification that leads to cohort coding in Purdue systems. This data allows for inclusion in programs such as Boiler Connect, Brightspace, and other university-led assessments.
- We have created new contact points to help track the engagement of our students. Separate instances of connection points, study space usage, student coach interactions, and other service-related interactions helps us understand the correlation and effectiveness of Span Plan within the nontraditional student population.
- We will continue to ask our graduates to complete a survey to better understand their success and challenges, along with the usefulness of Span Plan. Identifying these items can help us create more effective programs and outreach efforts to serve students.
Long-term Assessment Goals
- Much of Span Plan’s success with students relies on our ability to be seen as a program on campus, as well as a resource for referrals from faculty and staff. Developing a Purdue community climate survey will help us develop our next steps when we know if/how we are seen on campus beyond our students.
- This data will assist with the development of a nontraditional/parenting student ally program, isolating gaps in awareness.
- Creating a logic model is an effort to create a roadmap that demonstrates the shared relationship Span Plan has with the campus community, unique programming, and impact on the nontraditional student population. This effort can better help define Span Plan’s mission and efficacy while focusing our highimpact outcomes. The logic model can serve as an archival piece that shows the changes, adjustments and movement of Span Plan that is not easy to see from the first 50 years of the program.
- A longitudinal study of Span Plan students and their movement will be critical in the coming years as the landscape of high school graduates and “typical” college student are anticipated to change. Identifying norms or changes of our student population can lead to greater conversation around the change in college student make-up and the preparation involved in creating an environment that is welcoming for all students.
For a full picture of our data from the 2021-22 academic year, please view or download our Full Annual Report by clicking the button below.Download Full Report