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8 Things You Must Do When Re-Entering College

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4. Getting Mileage Out of Your Real-World Experiences.

College students get divided up into traditional and nontraditional students. The traditional students go straight from high school to college, from one sheltered microcosm to another sheltered microcosm. This limited life experience is actually a major roadblock for traditional students. Learning the theory of the classroom falls short because they so often have no applicable experience to put it into a real-world perspective. Nontraditional students often bring a wide range of successes, failures – and lessons learned from both – with them into the classroom. While it may at first appear that this disconnection in experience sets you apart from your traditional peers, the difference is actually your advantage. Not only will you have better critical thinking skills because you were forced to develop them, but nontraditional students also tend to have a greater appreciation for being enrolled in college. While the some traditional students may cynically text their way through
class disengaged with the material, the nontraditional student diligently takes notes and participates. When I went back to school I repeated this to myself all the time: "So few people get a chance to go college at all, let alone a second chance; I owe it to them and myself to make the most of this."

5. Connect with Professors.

Being more engaged in class and being able to relate course material to real-world experience means that you should be an active class participant. Bringing enthusiasm, energy, positivity and a genuine interest in learning with you into the classroom will make your professors love you. This helps a lot when it comes to needing an extension on a due date or missing class due to work – both common issues nontraditional students deal with as they often work full-time off campus. Not only that, professors do not want to waste time with lazy students, and enjoy helping those that show passion for the material and willingness to do the work. Getting your professors to appreciate you creates advocates supportive of your educational (and professional) goals.

6. Plan Courses Ahead to Save Time and Money.

Building on tip 5 above, contacting the professor of a course at the time of registration shows initiative. It is also a good way to get your syllabus and required books ahead of time. This provides you with time to shop books online and find the best possible deals, which can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a semester. You can also get a jump on reading and be ahead of the class, so that you create a buffer should work or personal life responsibilities interfere with your studies. For example, if you are ahead in course reading and get offered to work a double shift at overtime pay, you won't have to refuse out of fear of falling behind.

Planning ahead also enables you to pick your courses early and register as soon as registration becomes available. This really helps with completing your program on the time frame created because there is less chance of needing to wait to take a particular course. (More on planning ahead later on.)


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