10 Back-To-School Tips for Non-Traditional Students

Posted by Allison Leach on Aug 5, 2016 5:00:00 PM

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With summer winding to a close, students of all ages are busy with back-to-school preparations. While for adult students, the days of excitedly selecting a new lunch box may be long gone, the anticipation that accompanies a new school year remains.

In the hopes that our adult students will begin the school year on the path to success, we suggest the following back-to-school preparation strategies:

  1. Establish Goals
    Consider what you hope to accomplish this semester, and set academic goals accordingly.  Take care to remain realistic, and incorporate smaller sub-goals as a part of your plan.  You might also incorporate specific tools or outside support to help you remain motivated, overcome obstacles, and ultimately realize your goal(s).
    For instance, if you hope to raise your overall GPA, you might set sub-goals such as organizing a study group for a challenging subject, meeting regularly with a tutor, or attending a study-skills workshop.

  2. Address Potential Obstacles
    Take a proactive approach to potential obstacles by identifying and addressing any areas of weakness.  For example, if you have struggled with test taking in the past, you might research test-taking techniques, or plan to meet with an academic support specialist.  Other prospective obstacles you might consider addressing include study habits, time management, and technology-related skills.

  3. Familiarize Yourself with Resources
    If this will be your first semester in the degree-completion program, familiarize yourself with the various resources and services available to students, such as library services and the Center for Student Learning. 
 You may also want to meet with your academic advisor, or an academic support specialist, prior to the first day of classes, particularly if you need to address concerns about time management, test-taking , or study skills.

  4. Verify Hardware and Software Requirements
    Although we associate back-to-school shopping with pencils, paper and textbooks, modern college students need to consider many technological requirements.c If you are taking a course(s) in an online format, find out how the course materials are accessed, and what hardware/software is compatible with the platform.
    If you have concerns about accessing online courses, we recommend that you contact the IT Help Desk prior to the first day of classes.  It is best to address your concerns promptly, in the event that you will need to upgrade (or purchase) software or equipment.

  5. Designate an Appropriate Study Area
    Designate an area in your home where you will be able to study with a minimum of distraction. Depending on your living situation and your ideal study environment, this can range from a formal closed-off office space, to a comfortable spot on the couch. If you foresee that distractions will be an issue, consider alternatives, such as the library or the Center for Student Learning.

  6. Create a Detailed Schedule
    Using either a calendar app, or a traditional calendar/planner, enter in class times, and other firm commitments. Once you receive your course syllabus/syllabi, you should also enter assignment due dates and exam dates.
    If your work schedule is static, block out your work hours as well.  You may also choose to enter personal appointments, children’s activities, and any upcoming events.  Creating a detailed calendar will allow you to prioritize your available time, and see when you might be able to schedule time for studying and research.
    Be certain not to over schedule: we all need time for rest and relaxation!

  7.  Set Aside Time for Online Courses
    Many of the courses in the Bachelor of Professional Studies program are offered in online or hybrid formats.  If you are taking one of these course offerings, do your best to plan a consistent time to view online lectures, or otherwise complete online coursework.  If left to “free time,” coursework can quickly add up and become overwhelming.

  8. Involve Your Family
    If you are living with a partner, children, or other family members, take time to go over your schedule and your academic goals.  This should ensure that your family has an understanding of the demands on your time, and how they can best offer their support.

  9. Establish a Routine 
    Just as children need to get into a back-to-school routine at the end of summer vacation, adult students should also try to get accustomed to new habits before classes are in session.  This might include implementing a chore schedule for family members, adjusting meal times, or cutting back on outside commitments.

  10. Attend Orientation
    Students who are new to a given program should plan to attend student orientation.  This is a critical step in understanding school policies and procedures, and familiarizing yourself with facilities and staff.
    Orientation also provides an excellent opportunity to establish relationships with classmates.


If you have any questions or concerns about planning for the upcoming semester, please reach out to the School of Professional Studies.  We are dedicated to helping our students to achieve their academic, professional and personal goals.


Are you looking to complete your undergraduate degree?  Please visit our website to learn more about the accessible, affordable, and applicable programs offered in the College of Charleston School of Professional Studies..  

Topics: Student

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