Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How To Prepare for the ACT or SAT Exams for Nontraditional Students

For nontraditional students, preparation for the ACT exam or SAT exam can seem overwhelming. First, realize that these are primarily basic multiple choice exams. The most important thing to remember is to take your time and make sure you understand what the question is asking for before answering. If you are not sure of an answer, or need to think about it, skip it and come back to it if you have time.

The Princeton Review test preparation guides, the Cracking the ACT, 2009 Edition and the Cracking the SAT, 2009 Edition are two of the best preparation guides available.

Taking the ACT or SAT exam is just one of the tasks you need to complete before registering for college courses. For more information on beginning your college journey, visit Adults Going Back to School.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nontraditional Students and High School Transcripts

Believe it or not, nontraditional students have to supply their high school transcripts when applying for admission to college--even if you graduated high school thirty years ago or more. For some nontraditional students, this is not easy to get. When my husband decided to attend some college classes, the school he where had graduated had closed for a period of ten years, due to low enrollment.

Fortunately, one of the administrative assistants of the school district was able to locate the transcript by going through boxes of old records that had been in a closet for many, many years. This lady, bless her, took the time to find his transcript. If she hadn't, it is possible he would not have been admitted without taking the GED (which was mentioned at one point by a college official).

As soon as you make the decision to be a student again, contact the high school counsellor where you graduated. Give them a long lead time to find the transcript, especially if you graduated before computers and even more time if you graduated before microfiche became popular for keeping records. This will make it more likely the transcript will arrive within the allotted time period. Even if you don't know where you want to attend college classes, most high school administrations would appreciate a heads up that you are planning to go and will be requesting the transcript soon.

As for the transcript contents, don't worry too much if your high school GPA was less than stellar. You just need it to show that you completed high school. Most colleges will require nontraditional students to take the ACT, SAT, or a some kind of placement test to give them an idea where to place you as far as Math and English courses go. They want to make sure they don't put you in an Algebra class if you need to brush up on basic mathematics and pre-algebra, etc.

Going to school and being a student again is stressful enough without worrying about the highschool transcript Just be sure you request it early, then spend your worry time prepping for the ACT or SAT!

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Today's Nontraditional Students May Attend Classes with Their Children

I personally attended classes with both my son-in-law and my daughter. While you might think this would have been awkward, I found it enlightening. I learned so much about these two very much loved people, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Untraditional Or Nontraditional Student - Attending College With Your Children's Peers

by Linda Pogue

Due to the economic downturn, many adults are returning to, or attending for the first time, college campuses to earn new credentials. For many untraditional or nontraditional students, going to college with traditional students can be overwhelming, or even down right embarrassing. After all, they are your childrens peers, and we are at a time in our lives when we think we should be long beyond college classes. For some, the idea of attending as a first time college student is frightening, for others it is the answer to a lifelong dream.

Older adult learners attending college share some of the same misgivings and fears. What if I can't learn the material fast enough? What if I feel out of place? What if I get lost on campus? These are just some of the fears normal to older students. If we are honest, most of us, as older adults, will admit that we don't learn as quickly or as easily as we once did. The good news is that we can learn it, and once we do, we have the experience to use what we learn. Too often younger students easily learn material but do not have the life experience to see how that learning can be applied to their lives and livelihoods.

There are some specific strategies that will help you learn. First, find out what kind of learner you are. Are you a visual learner, auditory learner, kinesthetic learner, or a combination of all three? A quick search online for 'free learning style exam' will help you find a test that will give you the answers. Once you know what kind of learner you are, you will be able to focus your learning to your particular learning style, making it much easier to learn the material.

One instructor stated that learning is nothing more than 'repetition, repetition, repetition!' If all else fails, read the material over and over or read it aloud into a recorder and play it back while you are driving, washing dishes, or going to sleep. If you are a visual learner, building a chart or graph will help you visualize the material at test time. Whatever your learning style, knowing it will save you hours of grief when trying to learn class material.

Feeling out of place or fearing getting lost on campus does not only affect older learners. In any new environment, people are uncomfortable until they learn their way around. A day or two before class begins, go to campus, and visit the student services office. Ask if someone can show you around. If not, ask if they have a campus map and can show you where on the map your classes are located. Then walk the campus until you are comfortable that you can locate your classes.

Many instructors find that having older students in the classroom is helpful. It provides a real world context that is otherwise difficult to present to the class as a whole. As long as you are respectful and let the instructor know that you understand he or she is in charge, your views and comments will be welcome. It can even be fun to attend classes with younger students--even with your own children, if they can stand the embarrassment! Some of the best parent-child bonding can be accomplished by learning together.

Some simple steps to help you through your first semester are:

  • Take your time and learn your way around the campus.
  • Purchase your textbooks early or buy them online for more savings--the bookstores sometimes run out!
  • Introduce yourself to your instructors. Most instructors enjoy talking with their students.
  • Make a list of all your classes, their locations, and their times and dates. Keep it where you can easily refer to it.
  • Make a chart of all your assignments and due dates for each class so that you don't get lost or confused about when to do which assignment.
  • If you don't understand an assignment, try to meet with the instructor or professor as soon as class is over for clarification. If he or she cannot meet with you then, ask for an appointment at a time convenient to you both, but before the assignment is due.
  • If the instructor talks too fast, ask if you can have a copy of the class lecture notes. If the answer is no, ask another student to take notes for you, or purchase and use a small cassette recorder to capture lectures. Student Services can help you if you have hearing issues or other health issues that impact your learning, but you have to contact them and ask--it isn't automatically offered.
  • If life happens, contact your instructor immediately. Some instructors are extremely strict about due dates, but most are understanding and will work with you if they understand that you have a real emergency.
  • Enjoy yourself! Learning can and should be fun!