Be courageous - and improve your self-esteem at the same time.

Overcoming Fear

Many nontraditional students operate from a base of fear.

They may say to themselves:

I'm not smart enough.
It's been way too long since I've been in school.
I may as well not even try.

They also say:

I will never fit in,
I will be a failure.

Tough questions come up, too, like:

What if this doesn't work out?
What if I fail a course? and
What if I find out what I take isn't for me?

Some nontrads just give up before even trying. But they don't have to.

Sometimes just taking one class to get "your feet wet" can help. You can also talk to other nontraditional student who have "been there, done that." Fail a class or get a grade you don't like? You can always take it over, or take another class later. You can even take a subject, complete it, and then take another one. The learning itself - learning something new - is worth your effort, whether it starts in a school, in a book or online.

Doing something new might not be as hard as you think. Sometimes it just takes courage to get out of the rut you are in and try new things. Try telling yourself positive things, like I CAN do difficult things, and I know I am a smart person. Make that appointment with the college Financial Aid office. Who knows? There may be a grant for you that you don't even know exists. You can't find out if you never try.

Just telling yourself positive things about yourself and your abilities can improve your self-esteem. Don't listen to people who bring you down and are not positive. If you want to take a course, improve yourself, or go back to school, be brave and try it. You might find you like it! And then you can say, I did it!

Here are some websites I like that look helpful to improve self-esteem and courage:

Having Faith in Yourself

The essentials of Self-esteem (how to tell where you stand…)
Take a self-esteem questionnaire
25 ways to develop better self-esteem
Tips for personal growth and developing healthy self-esteem
The Steve Pavlina Audio Archives
(podcasts – these cover many personal development subjects)
Buddhist Ch’an Practice newsletter

A helpful group online for Nontrads:
The Nontraditional Student Yahoo Group


  1. Anonymous7:52 PM

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. Great blog, Elizabeth! You are so right in encouraging nontrads to overcome their fears. Is it Nike's motto that's "Just do it!"? It has been my experience that once a nontrad experiences a success, it's just fuel for the fire! Success breeds success. I've had so many friends tell me they want to go back to school but they always have an excuse. I tell them, "Just do it!". Thanks for your continuing encouragement for nontrads.

  3. Anonymous12:40 AM

    I have really found your post to be informative and this has compelled me to visit your blog over and over again. I'd like to thank you for your efforts in spreading academic information. Regards.

  4. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Thank you. This is advice I should take to heart. I have been fairly ambivalent about further education.

  5. Thank you for some very solid information. As a 35 year old that never finished college it is a challenge now to try to get the time and money to finish my degree. This blog is an inspiration to go out and get it done.

  6. Great blog! Once I figure out how, I will put a link up on my social network (for adults returning to school) for it, as I think this is very valuable to anyone thinking about going back to school.

    I know I start college in 18 days, the first time in 19 years (cough, cough) and fear has been a big thing for years!

  7. I really appreciate that, Ruth. I am so happy that you like this blog and have been reading it. I look forward to your visits. I hope we will be able to keep in touch. I am @betsyanne on twitter. Come check me out there. You can also join the Nontrads group on Yahoo at We would love to have you! Thank you so much for writing.

  8. Hi Elizabeth,

    Great site! I've been looking for some other non-trad. bloggers; so glad I found you! Kudos to you for giving such great words of encouragement--going back to school as an adult can be really tough. Been there, done that! Now I'm blogging to give support to others who have taken the plunge too.

    If you're interested, you can check out my blog at Good luck to you.

  9. I just got back from the back2school Moms site. It's really nice! I put a link to it on my Interesting Blogs section right here on the Nontrads Blog. So now you will get one thousand visitors tomorrow! ;-) Well, we can hope!

  10. Thanks so much for your kind words about my site, Elizabeth. I put in a plug for your site as well, and also mentioned that you moderate the non-trad group on Yahoo. I will be adding you to my blogroll. I don't want to get your hopes up too much for thousands and thousands of visitors from my site as it's only been up about a month ;-)


  11. Thank you, Danial. I appreciate that.

  12. This is excellent advice for people returning to school. I just went back to continue my degree and found that with a bit of effort and motivation I could step back into the "classroom" and go to school while supporting a family. Thanks for posting this.

  13. Thank you! I wish you success going back to school.

  14. cool very informative blog

  15. Thanks for the information.

  16. Well. I came across your sight by looking around ..see.. I just lost my job and will have to be thinking of new career, "going back to school" wasn't in my thinking thanks for the help.

  17. Let me know what happens. Thanks for the kind comment.

  18. thanks for information of websites that improve motivation for me as a teacher and for my students. ice breaking activities


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