Penn State celebrates National Nontraditional Learner Week with virtual events

Events will be held Nov. 4-12 at campuses across the commonwealth
Students at a networking event in 2019

A variety of events have been held in the past to celebrate National Adult Learner/Nontraditional Learner Week, such as the networking event in 2019 pictured here, but this year’s virtual format offered organizers the opportunity to collate all the events to better support each other and their students.

Credit: TRIO Student Success Services

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — About 19% of Penn State students are nontraditional or adult learners. To celebrate these students during National Adult Learner/Nontraditional Learner Week, the Commission for Adult Learners (CAL) will be hosting a variety of virtual events including resume reviews, happy hours, and information sessions.

Penn State defines an adult learner as someone who is 24 years of age or older, a veteran of the armed services, an active duty service member, is returning to school after four or more years of employment, homemaking, or other activity, or assumes multiple adult roles such as parent, spouse/partner, and employee.

In past years, many campuses have celebrated adult learners during National Adult Learner/Nontraditional Learner Week, but the events were not coordinated across the University. Organizers said the move to a virtual platform allowed the commission to collate all the events to better support each other and their students. These events also correspond with Veterans Day on Nov. 11 and Penn State Military Appreciation Week.

“The number of nontraditional students is going to continue to grow. By 2027, the majority of our student population could potentially be considered nontraditional as high school graduation rates decrease,” said Brian Redmond, chairperson of the CAL and teaching professor of organizational leadership. “The commission hopes these events are not only informational for students, but also provide a sense of community during these challenging times.”   

Schedule of events

Stress Management 104: Affirmations and Action Planning — Wednesday, Nov. 4, 7:30–8:30 p.m.

This program is designed to guide you through understanding stress and how it affects you, identifying what causes you stress, and learning how to manage it. In this session, you will create an affirmation and action plan to reduce stress and participate in a loving kindness meditation. Register here.

— Utilizing Transformational Leadership to Move Forward: Thursday, Nov. 5, noon–1 p.m.

During tumultuous times, we cannot rely on existing organizational structures to adequately guide our activities. Transformational leadership is needed during such times of change to fully engage and inspire stakeholders as we move forward together. Join us for an interactive session on Transformational Leadership to gain perspective on how you can make an impact in your organization or community. Attendees will learn about the four dimensions of Transformational Leadership and assess their own Transformational Leadership potential. This event will be presented by Gina Whalen, business faculty member for Penn State Schuylkill and World Campus.

Registration is not required. Join using your Penn State Zoom account, at this link.

— Marketing Your Skills in the 21st Century for the Nontraditional Students — Thursday, Nov. 5, 12:15–1:15 p.m.

This information session is being offered through Penn State Altoona Career Services. For registration information, contact Debbie Flaig at [email protected].

— National First-Generation College Student Celebration — Friday, Nov. 6, 12:15 p.m.

This event is hosted by TRIO Student Success Services at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. The celebration began in 2017 to honor the anniversary of former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Higher Education Act of 1963. HEA was intended to help level a playing field that for too long had been weighed against Americans from minority and low-income backgrounds. Join us as we celebrate the success of first-generation college students, faculty, and staff on our campus.  

Registration information can be found on the Student Success Services webpage.

— Penn State Greater Allegheny Adult Learner Event — Monday, Nov. 9, 6 p.m.

The evening will kick off with a Kahoot quiz game about Penn State and Penn State Greater Allegheny. The winner will receive a gift card courtesy of Student Affairs. The event will also cover the Center for Adult Learners website and discuss the childcare subsidies and financial literacy programs. Finally, priority registration for veterans will be discussed before a question and answer session.

For registration information, contact Dave Davis, [email protected].

Rock Your Profile for Graduate Students — Tuesday, Nov. 10, 8–9 p.m.

In this session, you will learn best-practice recommendations for building an all-star profile that tells your professional story as a graduate student. We want who you are to align with what you do, and LinkedIn is a first step to help you get there. Space is limited for this event. Register here.

— The Skills to Pay the Bills: Evidence-Based Leadership Skills — Tuesday, Nov. 10, 3–4 p.m.

Most leadership philosophies hinge on leaders who have innate qualities that they inherit; personality, charisma and intelligence. However, being a born leader is only one pathway to leadership. Certain skillsets have been demonstrated to make a successful leader can be learned. In this session participants will be presented with several of those skills as well as be able to discuss them and how they might leverage them in their leadership lives. This event will be presented by Brian Redmond, teaching professor of organizational leadership.

Registration is not required. Join using your Penn State Zoom account at this link.

— Speed Friending and Behrend Trivia — Tuesday, Nov. 10, 4­–6 p.m.

How well do you know your campus? Penn State Behrend is holding a trivia competition to find out!

Registration is not required. Please join using your Penn State Zoom account at this link.

— Personal Financial Guide with Peter Bielagus — Wednesday, Nov. 11, 12:15–1:15 p.m. and 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Penn State Altoona will host two information sessions with financial adviser Peter Bielagus. The evening session will be geared toward students who are veterans.

For registration information, contact Debbie Flaig, [email protected].

— Penn State Greater Allegheny Veterans Day Recognition Event — Wednesday, Nov. 11, 9 a.m.

To celebrate Veterans Day, Penn State Greater Allegheny will host a webinar to talk about the origin of Veterans Day and recognize the veterans in attendance. Attendees will be encouraged to discuss their branch of service and what Veterans Day means for them.

For registration information, contact Dave Davis, [email protected].

— Adult Learning Community Happy Hour Zoom — Wednesday, Nov. 11, 5–6:30 p.m. – participants are encouraged to join any time during the event.

How is your work/life/school balance this semester? Join a social Zoom session to talk about the opportunities and challenges you have faced this semester due to COVID-19 and the remote learning environment. Share your thoughts, ideas, and questions with other adult learners on campus. Get your questions answered by staff and learn more about resources to assist in your academic success. This event will be hosted by Penn State New Kensington’s Adult Learning Community with associate director of academic advising, Ruth Herstek.

For registration information, contact Herstek at [email protected].

 Career Exploration Series: Add This to Your Resume— Wednesday, Nov. 11, 7–9:30 p.m.

Join employer panelists to gain real-world applications of key career skills they highlight during this webinar. Students will be given a challenge to work on that can later be added to their resume along with making relationships with the companies who mentor you throughout the activity. This learning session will culminate in sharing what you've learned and accomplished within the challenge. Students will demonstrate the competencies that broadly prepare you for success in the workplace. Register here.

— Managing Change During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Hospitals and Health Systems — Wednesday, Nov. 11, 8 p.m.

The breadth, depth, and sheer magnitude of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our healthcare delivery system is unlike anything we have ever experienced. The purpose of this webinar is to describe the operational and financial impact of COVID-19 on hospitals and healthcare systems and describe the approaches, best practices, and challenges to supporting an organization through large, complex changes during this extraordinarily disruptive period. This event will be presented by Sandra L. Myerson, registered nurse, and sponsored by the Center for Workplace Performance. Register here.

— Your Experience Counts! Resumes for Adult Learners — Thursday, Nov. 12, 1:30 p.m.

Adult learners, veterans, and career changers can have special circumstances that are challenging to present on a resume. We will cover resume basics and also answer questions about how to make your resume work for you! This event will be hosted by Jim Shields, Career Services Coordinator, Student Programs & Services, Penn State New Kensington.

For registration information, please contact Ruth Herstek, [email protected].

For more information

For more information about the Commission for Adult Learners, visit: