College Survival: The Nontraditional Student's Guide to Surviving College

For the older student, going back to school can be a frightening experience. Many people choose to go back to school to obtain the degree that they have always wanted, to effect a career change, loss of employment, and for many other reasons.

Continuing your education is hard work. You must be able to prioritize and organize. Balancing school and home life can be extremely challenging, and more so if you have children at home. There are many things that you can do to help you manage the college work load, ease your stress, and increase your chances of college success.

1. Know why you chose to go back to school

What are your goals? If your goal is to take a class just to gain knowledge, you will be better off to take a community education class that does not require grading and homework. Many community colleges offer community education classes, and the fees are usually low. If your goal is to obtain a degree, have a clear idea of ​​what you want to achieve, and reaching your goal will be much easier.

2. Define your priorities

If you want to succeed in college, you need to determine what is the most important to you. During my college years I had classmates that had low grades or failed because the football game came before homework. Movies came before homework. Traveling came before homework. Procrastination only hurts you as a student, and shows that you are not serious about your education.

3. Financial aspects of attending college

Planning your finances while in college is something that every college student must do. Nontraditional students often have back-up sources of income such as a working spouse, parents, or other family members that can help with the cost of college. Financial Aid is also an option, and your school will have information on how to apply. Planning for expenses outside of college also has to be included in your financial planning. A solid financial plan will help minimizeize leaving college due to financial issues.

4. Classes and programs of study

Choose your major carefully. Decide what you want to do after graduation and choose a curriculum that corresponds with your needs and desires. Pay close attention to when classes are offered by your school because many required classes are offered semiannually or annually, and you might have to spend extra time in school just to get one or two required classes. Try to take the required classes first, then take any electives. I always enrolled in the required classes that were offered each term and managed in an elective class to fill any gap in my mandatory credit load.

5. Time management

Managing your time is essential to succeeding in college. Each class requires at least two hours of study time outside of class per hour spent in class. For example, if your class is meets three hours per week, your study time for that class is six hours per week. A time …

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