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The Nontraditional Student | Overcoming the Challenge of Going Back to School

December 07, 2010 By: Category: Choosing a College, Nontraditional programs

Today we have a guest post from S.B. Bryan, a writer and non-traditional college student attending Texas State University. His blog, 30-Year-Old Freshman, details the crazy world of a 30-year-old in a 20-year-old’s world, provides tips for surviving and thriving in college and at work, and explores the fascinating inner lives of llamas.

Will people like me? Will I be the oldest one in my classes? Will I have anything in common with my classmates? These are some of the questions facing non-traditional students returning to school. Going back to school can be intimidating, but you are not alone. Thousands of older students are returning to universities and community colleges across the nation, and you can too. Here are a few tips to help the older-than-average college student overcome the challenge of going back to school:

Online College Student

Conquer your fears. The first thing you must do to prepare your return to college is to conquer your fear. College will be a new environment for all students, and you can make use of your experience by maximizing your strengths. Put that life experience to good use and make your college choice one that will allow you to maximize your strengths and minimize your faults.

Ask for support. You’ll also want to look for a non-traditional student’s union or organization on campus. These organizations can make you feel more welcome and provide services like free tutoring, social gatherings, and events to make you feel more at home at your campus. Check with the student affairs office at your perspective college before you make your college choice.

Manage your time. As an older student, you will no doubt have more demands on your time. You’ll need to juggle work, family, and school, so you’ll need to schedule your day with accuracy and try to keep procrastination to a minimum. Most likely, you’ll need to use previously “free” time to get ahead on assignments instead of simply trying to keep up, like your classmates.

Don’t be intimidated. Whatever you do, don’t assume your classmates will be that different than you. You are all in college to learn, grow, and be better prepared to join the workforce of tomorrow. Join groups, clubs, and apply for scholarships and grants—you’re just as worthy as any other student!

Whatever your college choice, you can have a great college experience, even if it’s the second (or third) time around.


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