Innovative Practices to Address Nontraditional Participation and Completion Indicators

These innovative practices were retrieved from Career and Technical Education consortia plans. The following list of practices address nontraditional participation and completion indicators for secondary 6S1, 6S2 and postsecondary 5P1, 5P2 and were implemented by Minnesota colleges and school districts.

Career Awareness

Carlton County - Females and minorities in Electric Utilities Technicians, Geospatial Technology. Use of technology to help students explore nontraditional careers by connecting Geospatial with related career interests (e.g. environmental careers)

Central Lakes – Mini career fairs in Nov. 2014 and January 2015; Students were requested to choose a minimum of one session in a nontraditional career area.

Central Lakes – Videos featuring nontraditional careers are available for check out for all consortium districts.

Central Lakes - Career Advisors Service grant in partnership with Rural MN CEP to address the shortage of effective career counseling for HS students; partnership with AVID to implement the AVID Career and College Readiness program in area schools.     

Central Lakes -  Girls in Trades VIP Tour, special behind-the-scenes look at our Natural Resources, Welding, Horticulture, Auto and Marine and Small Engine Programs. A male-focused tour for nursing or dental may also be developed.

Dakota County – NonTraditional Career Fair held in the fall for high school students.

East Range - Creation of new CTE courses that provide nontraditional students with high skill, high wage and demand opportunities

Great River – Offer a Summer Career Academy for all members of the consortium. Academy targets nontraditional careers. Students in the Summer Career Academy will be tracked for two years to see if they complete a nontraditional pathway.

Great River - Youth Apprenticeship program in 2017 and the program called CEO, Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities to help meet the manufacturing needs in the area; SCTCC surveys students and staff to determine if there are any gaps in service to nontraditional students.

Hennepin West – Provide mentors for students, utilize field trips, guest speakers. A variety of professional organizations were contacted for mentoring students.

Hennepin West - mentoring middle and high school students including Girls Got It event; employing an intern to focus on nontraditional career awareness; placement intern employed to strengthen community partnerships career exploration, career opportunities.

Hibbing-Chisholm – Multiple strategies to get the nontrad message out to younger audiences. Next strategy will include the new development of career speaker programming in grade 8 (versus in grades 11 & 12 as in past years) in hopes that by using as many nontrad speakers as possible, the younger students may increase their understanding of the potential for job satisfaction plus high earnings in nontrad career choices.

Minneapolis – Direct alignment of student work experience with CTE program participation, including paid employment opportunities wherever possible will aid in both our participation and completion efforts.

Minnesota West – Breaking Traditions event and the Career Expo expose approximately 2000 high school students to nontraditional careers.

Minnesota West - The interactive Career Game Show introduces high school sophomores and juniors about career trends, nontraditional careers and labor market information.

North Country - Passport to the Future is attended by approximately 400 high school students each year. The purpose of the career exploration event is for students to have a hands-on experience with different CTE programs.

Northeast Metro - All CTE programs have industry representative presenting in their classes. This not only exposes students to the current industry standards, but gives them an opportunity to meet, hear about professional expectations and ask questions of possible employers.

Northeast Metro - Career Navigators and Adult/Non-Trad position to support nontraditional career activities

Riverland – Several sites are implementing Ramp Up To Readiness for college and career planning. We are hoping this ongoing weekly instruction will assist greatly in opening doors for nontraditional participation.

South Central – Partner with secondary and middle schools in consortium schools utilizing the STEM Equity Project curriculum to promote STEM career information to students earlier in their career pathway selection.


Dakota County - Success coaches, counselors and tech tutors will reach out to nontraditional by gender enrolled students to offer support; follow up is conducted with the nontraditional by gender students to identify how the learning experience was for them and why the experience was either a success or a hardship.


Lake Superior Consortium – Girls Only Industrial Arts courses. Started in Two Harbors with 9 girls learning woods, last year they built canoe. Used foundation funding to begin due to low numbers. Next pilot year in Hermantown with 11 girls-only shop class learning welding and construction etc.; following year 21 girls were in the class. Now consortia has enough revenue to run. Hermantown younger middle school girls were excited.

East Range – Work to create a different context in the industry environment. MRC has recently started to micro-target populations of nontraditional students linked to specific careers pathways. An example would be the 19 young women who came to MRC to tour specific programs (welding, masonry, industrial mechanical) from Silver bay and Two Harbors. These small cultural changes could have an impact on the numbers of nontraditional students entering into postsecondary. In FY 13 MRC worked with AEOA (arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency) in funding a grant for welding students on the North Shore (specifically women). MRC is attempting to duplicate this program in Eveleth in FY 15.

Lakes Country –  Reassess and realign consortium approved programs, review LMI data, and determine if the approved programs relate to the needs of our region. This has not been done faithfully for a number of years, and there are significant deficiencies in what are the perceived employment needs by administrators, and what the LMI data shows.

Engaging Males

Century College – Conference for boys to introduce them to CTE programs, increase enrollment.

Minneapolis – Barbering course has been added to Personal Care Services to attract more males to this program of study.

Minneapolis – MPS has initiated a partnership with the Mpls Fire Department to offer EMR and EMT certifications. We anticipate that this will attract more males to the health program of study.

Intrusive Advising

Carlton County – Implement greater emphasis on early academic alerts and interventions for CTE programs.

Central Lakes – Provide intrusive advising services to nontraditional students. Collectively, students will be case managed and retention and completion strategies will prevail.

Dakota County – Identify nontraditional students and their programs of study and make a concerted effort to reach out to them and make them aware of support resources available to them.

Dakota County – Communication documented in Hobsen’s RETAIN (software platform) will include type of communication, date sent, if student received and opened the communication, etc. Attendance taken and documented at any nontraditional event; enrollment from one term to another.

East Range – The first two weeks of each semester, advisors and counselors will connect with Faculty to identify at risk students. Advisors and counselors will connect with students at week three of fall and spring semester. Early interventions will include emergency loans to students through foundations, and funneling of students to community resources. Ancillary services such as tutoring, counseling and crisis management will be monitored to provide students an appropriate educational climate. These targeted interventions will retain additional students, and increased educational involvement.

Great River – Use data from the newly implemented Starfish early alert system to identify any patterns of concern within this student population.

Lakes Country – Implement an intrusive advising for targeted groups of nontraditional students who are interested in college, using data analysis.

Mid-Minnesota – For part time students, program completion is intentionally delayed. So our focus to fully reach targets is to increase efforts to: (a)intervene early to inform students and provide guidance to stay on track to complete, b)identify and employ academic resources to ensure success, and (c)follow up with data analysis to determine when and why we are successful or not.

Riverland – A Parent Center has existed on the Austin campus for about 3 years now and in FY14 one was added to the Albert Lea campus as well.

Southeast MN – KeyTrain interest and ability tests, covering nontraditional high skill, high wage, high demand career fields will be made available to all juniors and seniors within the 22 school districts

Southwest Metro – Create a total of 3 liaison positions for CTE departments at Normandale. These positions will contact both high school and college students and encourage exploration of nontraditional careers.

Professional Development

Central Lakes - Welding faculty have participated in a year-long IWITTS training in recruitment and retention to improve student retention for women in their program. 

Dakota County – Identify faculty who have been assigned as advisors to nontraditional students and make a concerted effort to reach out to them to increase their awareness of how to support and encourage their students.

Dakota County  –  Holding a Nontrad 'BootCamp' for educators in spring.

Dakota County  –  Sharing session at consortium meeting: What does the nontraditional student 'look' like at your district? What are your concerns and ways to improve service to nontraditional students

East Range - NHE district started a Student Success Committee, charged is to disseminate and enhance effective practices that increase student enrollment and retention. 

Hennepin West - inclusive training seminars using National S.E.E.D. Project inclusive curriculum

Hennepin West - Criminal Justice Expo to recruit females

Lake Superior  –  Tentatively the Consortium plan will include professional development for recruitment and retention of nontraditional students involving counselors, staff and administrators. Consortium will identify resources and interventions appropriate to this situation. Instructional staff will focus on recruitment, retention and participation of nontraditional students.

Lake Superior - All Girls Afterschool Opportunity is an afterschool program were HS girls are participating in an extra 30 hours per semester to work on projects and gain skill in the welding trade.

Mid-Minnesota - increase nontraditional participation and completion have focused on four primary areas: Image, Awareness, Knowledge, and wrap around support services

Minneapolis  – The MnSCU diversity coordinator has been consulted to identify strategies that teachers can use to encourage nontrad participation.

Minneapolis - providing child appropriate activities in the new Student Parent Center with computers, study areas, etc. for parents to work on classes. 

Southeast MN  –  Perkins resources will be used to conduct monthly meetings with all school district counselors highlighting the benefits of informing nontraditional students of POS, job openings, earnings, and aligning this effort to the college nontraditional e-mentoring program.


Great River – Market our programs without gender bias and will highlight current females identified in programs that are traditionally male programs and males in programs that are traditionally female.

Hibbing-Chisolm – The FastTrac grant program in collaboration with the MN Workforce Center and AEOA has worked hard to recruit women for enrollment in the CDL Professional Truck Driving program for fall 2014. Additionally, the Adult Workforce Development grant program through AEOA is pointedly seeking women and underserved populations to enroll in the HVAC (new one year program) for fall. Perkins is collaborating with both of these grant programs that serve special populations, and the Coordinator is working on the committees of both grants.

Hibbing-Chisolm – Addition of nontrad career photos and other information to the CTE website will help make students aware of nontrad careers, and will encourage them to register for nontrad courses

Lake Superior – Continue to work with the Intercultural Center to provide support to achieve a higher nontraditional completion rate.

Mid-Minnesota – Utilize the expertise, example and presence of the instructors to influence potential new students and to host sessions on women in (manufacturing, law enforcement) careers.

NE Metro – Using one of the tools that was learned in Women Tech Educators online training course, an interactive program was designed that we called "Women are IT" to encourage women to engage in the IT careers. This was offered at Century's Student Success Day in February. 50 existing students (the online course noted that we should look to our liberal arts or undecided students as possible candidates for the CTE programs) attended. A spinoff from this is a "Women are IT" student organization that began in fall 2014. One of the CTE Specialists will be the advisor for this group.

Pine to Prairie/Northland – The college has completed a view book that has nontraditional women and men prominently displayed in various programs. Also, billboards in the greater Grand Forks area have displayed female students enrolled in an aerospace program and the firefighter program. These images have also been displayed on the home page of the college web site.

Pine to Prairie/Northland – NCTC is also working to develop testimonials from graduates in nontraditional fields. We have already identified some graduates who are interested in participating in this program.

Additional Resources

The Professional Development in Nontraditional and Special Populations page has resources related to poverty awareness and the online session series "Improving Retention and Completion of Students in Nontraditional Programs."

How to request technical assistance

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