11 Tips for Non-Traditional Students

by Amy Bennett | January 23, 2017

So you’ve decided to complete your Bachelor’s degree some 20 years after taking your first college class? Good for you! You’ve been thinking about this for years, right? Was it a work-related reason or a personal reason that swayed you? Most often, the reasons we hear from our students include job security, more money, career advancement, setting a good example for their children, and personal satisfaction.
You probably know that higher education moves slowly, but the good news is that there have been significant changes in adult education in the last 20 years. Many colleges have programs with classes tailored for working adults. These classes are typically accelerated (no more semester-long classes). There are online classes, of course, and the classroom-based courses are taught in the evenings or weekends so adults can work a full-time job and take college classes. These classes are usually taught by a working professional as opposed to a full-time professor.

Tips for adult college students header image

Before you set foot back in a classroom or log onto your online class, our team of advisors has assembled some tips that will help ensure success for adult students - though, honestly, these tips apply to students of all ages.
  1. Enlist support for this journey from family and friends. Explain why completing this goal is important to you.
  2. It’s okay to say NO. You will have competing priorities as you try to juggle work, family, and school.
  3. Get to know your advisor. Don’t assume. Ask questions. Your advisor can be impartial; your support group may not be able to.
  4. Communicate with your instructor if you’re having academic issues. All other issues should be addressed with your advisor. Learn from instructor feedback.
  5. Don’t procrastinate. Start working on your course as soon as you are able.
  6. If you can, work ahead. You never know what obstacles may come up down the road.
  7. Good time management often means establishing a routine time and place to study.
  8. Read your syllabus, announcements and instructions thoroughly and completely.
  9. High expectations are good but don’t expect perfection.
  10. Keep your eye on the prize (graduation), and don’t get discouraged by road bumps along the way.
  11. Degree attainment is a journey, not a sprint. Look for programs with flexibility as you may need to set out a term or two.
Know that every course won’t be a cakewalk and every course won’t be your favorite. My most difficult college class was an Old English course. It was also the class I disliked the most, and yet I do remember more from that class than any other class I ever took… maybe because I was terrified that the instructor might call on me to read Beowulf aloud.
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