The Adult College Student's Don't Do List
By Linda Aragoni
Out-of-school adults are entering college in increasing numbers. If you are one of those students, knowing what not to do can make the difference between between flunking out and graduating.
Here are four tips to help you make the most of your college experience.
1. Don't expect college to be like high school.
Unlike high school teachers, college instructors won't break the work into daily assignments for you. They expect you to read the syllabus and plan your work to meet the class deadlines.
In many classes, your semester grade may depend on one or two assignments. College instructors rarely give a separate grade for homework and class participation, so your course grade will likely be based solely on test grades and papers.
2. Don't expect college to be like your workplace.
Your employer probably hired you because of your aptitude for your job, told you how the job must be done, and trained you to do it. At least for the first week, someone probably checked daily to see how you were getting along and whether you had questions.
In college, your instructors will assume you have skills such as time management, study skills, and academic writing. If you do not have those skills, may find yourself plunged into situations for which you have little or no preparation. You may be a whiz at bookkeeping, for example, but find yourself enrolled in English, history, and sociology.
3. Don't take on too much.
If you have been out of school a few years, you many find it best to ease into a college program by taking just a single course. For starters, take a course in which you have some expertise or interest. That will help learn your way around and gain confidence. Be careful, however, that your grade in the course will not depend heavily on skills you don't have. If your grade in an art course will depend on a term paper and you need remedial writing, don't take the art course until you have dealt with your writing skills deficit.
Then, when you are familiar with the college environment, take a single course in which you expect to have some difficulty. In this way, you will not only have time to adjust to college, but also get one tough class out of the way.
4. Don't hesitate to seek help.
If you see you are having difficulty with an academic subject, make an appointment to see your instructor right away. If you have problems that affect you in more than one class, such as a learning disorder, check the college catalog or ask your advisor to refer you to someone who can help.
If your problem is not academic, you may still be able to get help on campus. Most colleges can direct you to employment services, academic aid, health services, and counseling for personal problems.
With realistic expectations and a willingness to ask for help you'll be off to a good start on your college degree.
A former college writing instructor who taught adult students in online classes for five years, Linda Aragoni helps teachers do a better job teaching expository writing to students at her website, You-Can-Teach-Writing.com. She continues to support students embarking on college careers with essay help in an on-site forum. Copyright 2010, Linda G. Aragoni. You may reprint this article provided the whole text, the author's name, the links, and this copyright notice remain intact.