Nontrad Students in college - 11 more tips for success!

By Elizabeth Sheppard

Here are some tips for you nontraditional students in college right now or thinking about it. Some tips are just for face-to-face class students, but others will work for both in-class and online students.

1. Attend every class. (for online students, go online every time the instructor has scheduled.)

If you attended college before when you were younger, you might remember sometimes skipping class. After that, you might have asked a classmate to tell you what happened that day. I know when I did this, a fellow student might say “nothing much!”

Then, later, when it was test or quiz time, there were some questions that I just didn’t know how to answer. Oops!

That was back in the “bad ol’ days.” Much later, when I went back to school as a nontrad student, I knew that I needed every break I could get, so I just didn’t skip. Period.

2. Get to class early if you can. Online students, sometimes it might takea awhile for your computer to link up to the other computers if you are taking an online discussion class. Make sure you leave enough time to be online when class starts.

Face-to-face students: being early sometimes can help you make friends in class because you will be able to talk before class. Use this time to set up study groups or exchange phone numbers.

3. Keep a well-organized class notes folder, and take notes in class.

Online students: make sure you save every online session if possible.

Classroom students: You may choose to tape your lectures if you are an audio learner. Or you may just want to take notes in your notebook. Either way, make sure you keep some kind of record of each class to review before exams.

Keep your folder with you always. Label your folder with your name and phone number in case you lose it. (Always check after each class to make sure you put it in your backpack or the same location every time.)

4. Ask questions if you don’t understand something. Too many times, people won’t ask a question in class or online because they don’t want to look stupid. Believe me, the question you ask will probably be one that at least two or more people WANT to ask but are afraid to.

And if you ask it, the instructor will not mind at all. They want to be understood, and will most likely be very glad you brought it up.

And who cares what people think, anyhow? I know personally I used to care about that a lot more in the past than I do now. Maybe that’s because I’m older and realize that I’m not going to get everyone to like me anyhow, no matter what I do, stupid or not.

5. Don’t be afraid to highlight or underline in your textbooks.

I used to be afraid to mark in my textbooks. I just didn’t want to wreck them. I guess it was an echo from high school - - my teachers usually forbid any marking in a book back then.

But if it will help you remember something, or go right to it before a test, go ahead and mark it. It will help you get a better grade.

6. Sit in the front of the class. Remember when you didn’t want to be seen in class? If you are in a face-to-face class, it’s now OK to be in front. You can see and hear the instructor better, and he or she will probably remember you, too. It doesn’t hurt to get as many points as you can (without making the class hate you, of course…) Why not stack the deck in your favor?

7. Keep your hand down sometimes. Yes, you may always want to raise your hand in class every question the instructor asks… but let the other students have some time to talk, too. It’s too easy to forget that other people want to interact, too. Realize when you are talking too much and try to let others have their chance.

8. Exchange phone numbers with other students. If you aren’t able to access other student’s information, like their phone numbers, take the initiative and do it yourself. You should have at least three other students’ phone numbers in case you are ever sick or need information about class. Give them your number, and ask for theirs. Most people will be glad to have a contact also.

9. Search out clubs or organizations. If you have even a little extra time, you need to look up student groups that you can join. The addition of a social network at school can make school a lot more fun.

Many schools are now providing a nontraditional student group or center for nontraditional students to meet each other. If your school does not offer a group, you will find that many other student groups now are welcoming nontrads. Ask them and find out.

10. Back up your work. Make sure that you have an extra copy saved of that report, thesis, term paper, observation notes, etc. I remember several times that other students lost their computer disk the very week it was due. These students were in a world of hurt and had to make everything up in just a few days. They were devastated. I saw a few crying when they found out.

Don’t let this happen to you. Always make a backup of your computer work and save it in a safe place just in case. Think of it as insurance.

11. Know where your classes are. Before you finalize your schedule, make sure you know where you need to be at what time. It may look like you have plenty of time to get across campus in, say, 10 minutes, but make sure you can get there. Some classes may be in buildings way across campus from each other, and you will be late to one class all the time if you are not careful.

Have another tip? Just add a comment here and I'll put it on the next Tips List. Thanks!

For more tips, help and info.:

See the Nontrad Page or
Join the Nontrad Yahoo group