Tips and Tricks for Non-Traditional College Students – Part 1

Tips and Tricks for Non-Traditional College Students – Part 1
  • Opening Intro -

    Going to college can be an intimidating prospect for anyone, but the task can seem far more complex for a non-traditional student.


A non-traditional student is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as an individual that didn’t attend college immediately after graduating from high school, attends college part-time, works full-time while pursuing further education, is financially independent or financially responsible for others, has a spouse or kids, is a single parent attending a place of learning, and/or has a GED instead of a high school diploma.

There are more factors to consider for non-traditional students hoping to pursue higher education, including those mentioned time constraints, financial considerations, and the needs of dependents. For those non-traditional students dedicated to achieving the dream of succeeding in college, there are several tips that can help individuals reach their college-related goals:

Run a realistic race.

While it’s important for non-traditional students to enter college with an end goal in mind, such as getting a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, the main focus should be on making realistic steps towards that overall goal. For non-traditional students, pursuing higher education isn’t a sprint to the finish that has to be done in 4 years.

It’s crucial for non-traditional students, especially those individuals with families, jobs, or other off-campus priorities, to ensure that class schedules don’t have too many hours than what the student can handle successfully. It’s generally better to take fewer classes and do better in them and learn more than to jam a college schedule full of hours and stumble through the semester, just hoping for a passing grade.

This can lead to issues with overall grade point average at the end of the semester, which could potentially interfere with financial aid or enrollment since many forms of financial aid depend on grades and many colleges require a minimum GPA. It can also lead to burnout for the student trying to do too much at once.

Mapping out a college journey to meet an end goal, planning out budget and time resources, and ensuring that all areas of responsibility are covered before enrolling in college can help avoid crisis situations later on and can ensure success semester by semester.

Money Matters

Non-traditional students generally have more financial issues to consider than others at college, but there are also financial aid programs and resources available specifically to this group. Non-traditional students should connect with a counselor or advisor on campus early in their college career and should check in frequently with this individual.

Counselors and advisors can not only help the non-traditional student address and overcome many issues related to scheduling, technology, and networking, but these professionals often have the most up-to-date and readily available information on financial aid.

Many forms of financial aid can help non-traditional students pay for their tuition and the materials they will need for their classes. Applying for financial aid and taking steps to ensure that standards are maintained to continue to receive financial aid are both important and require knowing exactly what is expected of the non-traditional student going into the semester.

Some companies also offer financial aid to employees, so checking in with the resources department at work might also provide some financial assistance.

College Campus reference:

advanced ed guides



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