While the Adult and Nontraditional Student Center provides outreach to the nontraditional population at APSU, there is also another organization that provides similar outreach, yet without official ties to the university: the Nontraditional Student Society, or NTSS.
“In the past, [NTSS] tried to focus on supporting nontraditional students specifically, but we’ve found it’s important to be intersectional and interact with the entire student population,” junior nursing major Mary Richards said.
Richards said she has experienced difficulties in being a nontraditional student herself, realizing that she cannot bring her son to many events as he is not an APSU student.
“A huge barrier for nontraditional students to get involved is that on top of school work, they sometimes have entire families to take care of and full-time jobs to work,” Richards said. “However, we work around that.”
NTSS understands that there is a lot that goes into being a nontraditional student and works to better the community in being a flexible and accommodating organization for anyone willing to join.
“I think I’m a very ‘nontraditional’ nontraditional student,” freshman management major Sarah Petrie said. “They really opened up to me, and they make me feel so comfortable. There is always a shoulder to cry on and an ear that will listen.”
NTSS said one of the factors that makes them special is their ability to make anyone feel welcomed without labels or stigmas. While nontraditional students are in charge of the organization, they said they do not want to separate themselves from the campus. Through the work they do, and the environment they create, NTSS has attracted many other students.
NTSS hosted a family game day Saturday, Mar. 17, from 1 to 6 p.m., highlighting several games geared to all ages. The goal was to establish an intermingling community with both traditional and non-traditional students on campus, making sure they are welcoming to as many students as possible.
“I remember following my friend into one of their meetings,” sophomore biology major Christopher Johnson said. “I’ve been a part of NTSS ever since. I really like the things they do, like helping YAIPaks.”
Standing for “you are important paks,” YAIPaks is a ministry that helps the homeless communities across the nation. They provide micro homes for the homeless and provide basic living necessities for both women and children in encampments and shelters. For one of their meetings, NTSS went out to assist YAIPaks. This moving experience proved beneficial to all who attended, realizing that helping the less fortunate, is crucial. Since the NTSS is open to students and families of students, little children were able to learn this lesson as well.
NTSS says people are often confused about the definition of nontraditional. Individuals who do not come straight to the university after high school and instead take a year off or went to a community college first would be categorized as a nontraditional student. Similarly, individuals who are parents or have dependents they are taking care of at home while attending classes are nontraditional.
“Nontraditional students are everywhere,” Richards said. “The older students are just easier to spot in the crowd.”
Separate from the ANTS center on APSU, NTSS is a student-run organization whereas the former is a cultural center run by the university with staff members.
Both groups have a similar goal in establishing a ground for the nontraditional students to feel invited and welcomed; however, being student led, NTSS prides themselves on providing a more inclusive atmosphere.
“The palooza we’ve set up today is meant for everyone,” Richards said. “The goal was for nontraditional students to feel okay with bringing their kids, or for traditional students to bring their brothers and sisters or friends.”
Open to all APSU members and their families, the Palooza had numerous board games set up, Twister and Kahoot running, an arts and crafts table as well as a food buffet, shirts and prizes to be won. Prior to the family game night palooza, there was an event called the Gov’s Ball.
“The Gov’s Ball was more adult-oriented and we wanted to be more inclusive and family friendly this time around,” senior leadership major and NTSS president Loreli McCole said.
After seven years of being active, the non-traditional student society is still trying to find their place within the APSU community. After three years of being apart of the NTSS, McCole is already president of it. However, after events such as the family game night, and their willingness to help volunteer around the community, the organization hopes to get more widespread awareness and attraction.