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CHERE to Offer Two-Day Conference on Non-Traditional Students in Higher Education, Nov. 13-14

CHERE eventHartford, Conn. (July 6, 2015) - The Center for Higher Education Retention Excellence (CHERE), a program of the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, is sponsoring a two-day conference, "Can Non-Traditional Students Save Higher Education, and Vice Versa," to explore non-traditional students, including underrepresented and first-generation traditional age students as well as adult learners who have never been to college.  The event will be held on Friday, November 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, November 14 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.  

The latest in CHERE’s series of higher education conferences in Connecticut will include highlights of the nationally recognized retention work for first generation students presented by representatives from the University of Texas-Austin, as well as an expert panel, student panel, and more than two dozen workshops on a range of related higher education topics. The conference will also feature a student track, according to Executive Director David Johnston. 

Since its inception in 2013, CHERE has offered 10 day-long conferences on a variety of higher education topics, with attendance from individuals in higher education and high school counselors in Connecticut and the region. This will be CHERE’s first two-day conference, and the first to include a student track alongside the workshops being provided for education professionals. 

“This conference will offer a close look at how non-traditional students can impact higher education – and how higher education can impact the lives of these students.  For underrepresented, first generation and otherwise challenged students, there are a range of options and opportunities to excel, if institutions take steps that have been shown to work,” Johnston said. 

Topics for the workshops include seamless counseling, technical and career education, first-generation students, retention/persistence, adult learners, public policy issues, escalating costs and technical and career education.   

The conference plenary session will include an expert panel that will include the Provost of CCSU, two institution presidents - from a Connecticut Community College and a private university, a senior elected official from the state legislature and a representative of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education.

The mission of CHERE is to “understand and improve policies and practices for challenged students that lead to higher college retention, from the summer after high school graduation, through the first year, to graduation, and to employment.”  

Among the key questions of the day: How do we change that perception in an era of rapidly increasing costs of higher education?  How do we make sure that those who advise high school students -- parents, counselors, teachers, community agency staff -- understand the quality of career and technical education programs and see them as viable choices?

Previous CHERE conference topics have included "Community Colleges: Their Time Has Come," held at Tunxis Community College; "Seamless Counseling," held at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy; "Technical and Career Education: An Important Part of the Higher Ed Continuum," held at Housatonic Community College; "Bridge Programs: From Here to There" held at Western Connecticut State University; "Summer Melt: Students Who Fail to Matriculate. Why? What To Do?," held at the University of Saint Joseph, and "First-Year Experience: What Works and Why," held at Housatonic Community College.  

Co-sponsors of the event on Nov. 13-14 include the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU), Central Connecticut State University and the National Resource Center for First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina.  

For more information or to register for the conference, please call David Johnston, at (203) 640-6201, email him at, or visit


David Johnston