Connecting with nontraditional students can be a challenge. As they come and go, more disconnected from campus events than other students, your message can be lost. Many of these students have jobs, they might have kids and they are older. All of this contributes to making them feel disenfranchised on campus. Keeping this population of students in mind, here are a few ideas of how your store can engage with overlooked students.
Various reasons contribute to students starting college later, but they are serious students who want to be there, seeing a degree as a way to better their lives. Careers matter to nontraditional students as well as Generation Z. 72% of nontraditional students consider career counseling an important service. Offer career-focused books or invite a guest speaker to talk about writing resumes or interview preparation. Show that you understand why they are in school and how serious they are about making the most of their opportunity to go to college.
If students are balancing families, it can be hard to get away for more than an hour or two to attend classes. However, making the store more kid-friendly can tempt the student who is also a parent back to campus. Advertise in the community, and you might even draw a larger crowd. Consider hosting a storytelling hour on the weekend or partnering with one of the science departments to have kid-friendly experiments that teach about science as well as gives the parents an opportunity to look around the store.
All students like food. Offering healthy, portable snack options in your store can bring even the busiest student in before or after class. A swamped student might not have time to stop for a full meal. Provide a ready-to-eat option they could pick up faster than they could from fast food. It will save them time and give your store associates a chance to start building relationships with these students — as well as a chance to inform them about upcoming events. Fresh fruit, gum, cookies and fresh vegetables were the top four cited in a student watch survey by NACS Foundation.
Help them save
Cost is a major factor for every student. Many schools and states around the country are starting to look at ways to offer higher education to more students — even if that means making it free from some. Still, students will need course materials. Begin the campus store-student relationship off on a positive note. First-year students pay more for course materials than any other student demographics. Offer students advice on how they can save money with used book, rentals, Guaranteed Buyback or digital books. The more information you can share with them on their options, the more they will trust that you are there to help them.