Nontrad students gain encouragement, tech support from peers

Linda Crosby and Cary Dabney, both peer mentors at the Center for Student Progress, can relate to Youngstown State University’s nontraditional students.

They’re nontraditional students as well.

Crosby, a junior social work major, often shares with students her experience of returning to school after a five-year break. Back then, she relied on her peer mentor for encouragement and support as she acclimated herself to being on a college campus again.

Now, she’s the one providing help to others.

“I had those same issues,” Crosby said.

Crosby said many nontraditional students often have issues with technology, such as the MyYSU Portal, which gives students access to their YSU email account, class registration, financial aid and more.

“I’ve had nontraditional students who haven’t even accepted their [financial aid] awards because they are waiting for it to come through the mail,” Crosby said.

Dabney, a senior who is studying philosophy and religious studies, said some nontraditional students might not be familiar with online services, like email and Facebook, or know how to use them like many traditional students.

“We talk about these things like they are just everyday usage, and there’s people that don’t use it every single day,” he said.

Crosby said peer mentors have to encourage some students to use technology.

“A lot of them are so ready to give up once they come in and they find out that everything that they have to do is basically on a computer,” she said. “They think they can’t do it.”

Multiple campus resources are available for students who want technological assistance.

For instance, the YSU Info and PC Lab, located in Kilcawley Center, offers a typing service, while the YSU Tech Desk in Maag Library provides technical support, such as navigating YSU email accounts, connecting to the Internet and installing computer software.

In addition, Crosby and Dabney encouraged students to take advantage of the CSP’s many resources — including peer mentors.

“I try to make that barrier that we think we have with the traditional student go away,” Dabney said. “I believe that that’s the case, mostly because I have teenage daughters. My relationship with them has proven to me that you can be nontraditional and have relationships with individuals who are traditional students.”

Dabney focuses on eliminating the distance between traditional and nontraditional students.

“I think once you make that barrier go away, then they get more excited about being on campus because they see, ‘OK. I can have the whole college experience just like everyone else. I don’t have to just go to class and go home,’” he said. 

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