Student Resources: How to Be a Successful Student in a Non-Traditional Setting

Published by Contributor on Fri May 18, 2012

If you plan to undertake college studies as a non-traditional student, then congratulations on joining thousands of other students in this venture. Non-traditional student participation in colleges that offer this opportunity around the country have seen growth over the past decade through applications by individuals who need flexible schedules and who cannot attend a college at a distance. Constraints that create roadblocks to a traditional college education include work, family responsibilities, and lack of funds for attending traditional bricks-and-mortar institutions. The following tips can help you increase the value of that time spent in non-traditional settings. For the most part, the information provided is not much different than success advice often offered to traditional students.

Study Time Considerations

Home StudyCurrently, you may face many demands on your time, including family, work, and personal interests. Think about your non-traditional college experience much like you would if you had to leave to attend a college away from home…you may need to eliminate some responsibilities from your life, such time spent on recreational activities or civic responsibilities to attend to studies.

Balancing demands with the time needed for classes and studying won’t be easy. But if education is important to you, you’ll find a balance that works for you and your family. If you think that you might need an hour of study time for each class, double that amount of time so you won’t feel pressured to hand in less-than-satisfactory work. Managing your study time can make class time less stressful, and you can build confidence in your ability to handle higher education.

Time Management

Library ResearchOutside planning for study time, you’ll also need to understand your personal willingness to make your time more productive. Your organizational skills can help you to plan ahead, so you’re not working on two research papers at one time. Learn how to read a book so that you can grasp its concept and argument, so you can spend more time with your family.

Resources you can use to help you increase your time-management skills include:

Be Confident

Confident StudentAdults and beginning college students alike sometimes find it difficult to achieve immediate success. Remember that studies are gauged by midterms and finals, with various factors thrown in along the way. Sometimes you may not know how you are doing until the middle of your quarter or semester. But, if you start off strong, and if you’re well prepared to work hard, you can excel.

Be prepared and gain confidence by refreshing or redeveloping your study skills and your test-taking strategies. Some sites that can help you with these endeavors include:

  • How To Study: Although this site may seem geared to younger students, it contains basic principles, skills, and techniques for studying that you may have forgotten.
  • Study Guides and Strategies: This entire website is filled with tools that can help you study any course and learn with more ease.
  • Study Skills: This Wikipedia entry can provide you with all the keywords you need to search for study strategies across the Internet.
  • Survival Strategies for Taking Tests: This simple guide can provide you with a test run on the eve of any test.
  • Test Taking Tips: This website is simple to use, and can provide you with the tools you need to overcome fears about taking tests.

You’ll also need to make sure your computer and its software programs are compatible with your online classes. Beyond this measure, you also may need to brush up on your computer skills and feel comfortable with participating in online group discussions and in using electronic library resources.

Involve Your Family

Family TimeNo matter if you’re married or single, your desire to enter a college lifestyle will affect everyone around you. Some family members may be stressed about choice, and other family members may be against your willingness to restructure you life for college studies. If you involved your family members in your decision and allow them to make suggestions, they can become involved and supportive.

This support is important, as some family members may need to take on more responsibility because of your choice. You can help make this a positive experience, as more responsibilities can help those family members grow as individuals. Also, keep in mind that your college courses won’t last forever, and your ability to make more money with a degree can favorably impact your family life.

Learning and studying at home is much like running a home business. Your family members can help by identifying a place at home that becomes your space for studying. They also can block time out for you so that they don’t rely on you during your busiest hours.

At the same time, you can honor your family by using your time wisely. If you use the time management tools mentioned above, you can balance your studies with family life, helping to create a more positive environment for your educational goals. Here are some tips to help you succeed in this area:

Ask for Help

Finally, you can learn how you’re doing when you ask for help. Ask for peer student help, instructor guidelines, family help, and help from outside the family. Obtain an advisor if your school offers that option so you can discuss how to best accomplish your goals. Learn about the resources available to you before you begin classes, so you can ask for help in all the right places when you need it the most.

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