Guest Blog by Susan Elliott
Non-Traditional Student on Campus
Stepping onto a campus, of any size, after several years absence, or for the first time ever, can be a bit overwhelming. Fear is normal. It is also normal to feel like all the younger students are staring at you, and that you will never fit in. Don’t worry. You don’t have to fit in or be popular, this is not high school. You are in college to learn, fulfill your dreams and start anew. Relax, the chances are you will excel in your new environment.
Scheduling is Everything
Before you ever begin a class you have to create your schedule. Many students find this preparation the most confusing time of their school career. Non-traditional students must consider two things when selecting their class schedules, what else is going on in their life, and can they be reasonably sure that they can make it to their classes.
Children, spouses and work all make big impacts on your schedule. Many classes require a lot of outside studying. Can you commit to the hours needed for class preparation, projects and activities? If not, you better select a different class. Some teachers are more lenient towards non-traditional students, but they will still expect your best efforts. If you can’t give them, don’t bother.
Also, consider you time constraints. Do you have to be somewhere every Thursday, does PTO meet on Mondays? What about driving time, carpool? Does the class you’re considering conflict with any of these things? If so, you may want to choose a different class, or make a commitment determining what things you are going to give up during that particular class time. Don’t make these decisions on impulse. Carefully consider all your options before committing to a class.
Confidence Determines Success
The very first day of class the pressure may seem unbearable. Walk into class with your head held high, and with your most inviting smile on your lips. A smile can actually break the tension in the class. There are many students that are just as scared as you are.
Make eye contact with people. This eye contact may actually help you make friends. A person’s response will also help you to decide if he is a possible partner for any group projects that may be assigned during the class.
Notes are Key
On the first day of class you will always have an A. It is your job to keep it. Properly formulated notes can be the key to keeping high marks. Consider what the teacher is saying. You do not have to record everything he says.
If your teacher is fond of telling pointless stories, don’t take write them into your notes. It is a waste of paper, and it will also waste your studying time. Leafing through pages of notes to find a few lines of pertinent information is never fun. Record things that are related to the class or the things that the teacher says will be on the test.
Develop Your Own Note Taking System
Make use of colored pens, highlighters or computer software to keep track of important information. Programs like Microsoft OneNote are perfect for recording notes and important facts. The OneNote program allows the user to create folders for individual classes, as well as daily pages under a class heading.
Remember, you will succeed as a non-traditional student. Be your biggest cheerleader and keep on trucking!