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ASSMU Senator of Nontraditional Students




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Below you will find helpful tips for Nontrad returning students as well as links to online resources.


So, Iím a student again after all these years:  Many adult students initially feel unsure of their academic abilities or are not familiar with various academic options and campus services that are available. The following describes various campus resources and suggestions that may be helpful:

  • Have confidence in your abilities. Studies have sown that learning ability does not decline with age. In fact, verbal ability typically increases.
  • Take a light load the first term. You may need time to adjust to your new routine and the demands of coursework.
  • Try to balance your course load. Balancing your course load means avoiding taking too many demanding courses in any one semester; it also means spreading your courses out so that you are not taking all night classes, or all MWF classes, or all TTh classes.
  • Consult your academic advisor if you have questions about the requirements for your major or a particular class.
  • Audit a class if the subject is unfamiliar or particularly difficult for you. Auditing a class before you take it for credit allows you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the information and facilitate future learning.
  • Develop peer support. At the beginning of the term, get the phone numbers of one or two classmates. You can help each other with difficult concepts. Also, if you miss a class you will want to know what was covered and what assignments were made.
  • Learn to use the Blackboard system and other new technologies. Some professors will post important announcements and notes on the Blackboard system. It will also assist you in managing your grades and assignments. Learning other new technologies, such as word processing, computerized searches, and e-mail, will prove valuable in later employment.
  • Remain current in your reading and assignments. Professors expect you to check the syllabus for information and may not make announcements in class.
  • Seek help when you need it. If classes are not going well, meet with your professor during their office hours or visit a campus lab for extra assistance.
    Visit your professors during their office hours to get acquainted and to get further assistance with the course material. Professors set aside time for students for clarification or questions, and will usually make appointments if their office hours are inconvenient for some individuals.
  • Become familiar with the library system. Knowing how to use the library can save time and reduce anxiety.
  • Establish good study habits. Establish a set time and place for studying.

Am I a Non-traditional Student?  Adult students, often referred to as ďnon-traditionalĒ students, are not clearly defined by Saint Martin's.  The leadership of the Non-traditional student club has submitted a working definition to the college; one that is inclusive to as many variations as possible.

How can credits I have previously earned be applied to my current coursework?  Your admissions counselor and student advisor will be able to help you determine where and how previous coursework will be applied to your current situation.  There are many ways to earn credit.

I canít compete with all those 18 year olds fresh out of high school!  This is a common, but unfounded, fear.  Our statistics prove that adult students commonly earn better grades in classes than traditional students.  However, for those whose skills are a little rusty, Saint Martin's has numerous help facilities that provide tutoring and supplemental instruction.  Academic Advisors can help you locate and make arrangements with these services.

Instructors wonít understand that I have other responsibilities as well.  This is simply not true.  Adult students are openly welcomed in the classroom by all instructors because of their unique perspectives, maturity, and firm resolve to do well.  Establishing good communication with instructors early in the semester is a key factor in avoiding any problems. Advisors and the Learning Center Services are beneficial resources when issues or questions related to communicating within the college setting come up.

I simply canít afford school. You might be surprised how easy it is to obtain scholarships and financial aid, if you start your search early.  Sometimes your employer will be willing to help you financially.  If not, you can test the waters by applying for government grants and loans.  Scholarships are also numerous, but you must keep your eyes open for opportunities.  February and March are the best times to be on the lookout.

Won't I be on social security before I finish a degree?  Maybe it will take a long time, but this is a bad excuse not to make a start.  Earning college credit can help you advance and earn more in your current career, whether you earn a degree or not.   College classes will help you grow as a person and give you a sense of accomplishment that you may be missing in your private or work life. 

Getting Ready for Success!

Now that you've decided to continue your formal education, how can you make college a success while still meeting work and family obligations? Check out these expert tips to help you during that all-important first term:

1. CONGRATULATIONS on your decision - Don't panic! Just RELAX!!

While it may be unsettling to step into a classroom environment you haven't been in for some time, remember the experience you're bringing to the table.

2. Plan your timeframe, be flexible, be accountable.


Make an appointment with an education counselor who knows the requirements of your academic program. Map a plan to complete the program within your desired timeframe. Don't forget that flexibility is inherent in the academic plan. If you feel the workload isn't flowing well, then there's room for change. Balance and flexibility are keys to success.


3. Invest in a quality organizer/day planner.

Annotate all of your exam and project dates. Be sure to write down reminders of when your projects are due, so they don't sneak up on you. Also, be sure to start a list of the phone numbers of fellow students. It will come in handy when you're working on group projects and need to call each other.


4. Schedule your study time, use it, and guard it!

Do yourself a favor and schedule uninterrupted study time several days a week. You'll need this time to do research, write papers, and work on projects. Dedicated study time will allow you to complete your assignments faster, and in a quality manner by allowing you to focus on the goal at hand.


5. Form study groups.

Study groups are great tools to use for brainstorming, tutoring, and collaborating. Get in the habit of getting together before exams or when other projects are due. Throw around ideas and use the synergy to your advantage. Help someone out who may not be grasping the material. Chances are you'll retain the information better after thoroughly explaining it to someone else.


6. Don't procrastinate.

While certain situations arise that need to be dealt with, be sure to stick to your study program as closely as humanly possible. With your time being divided by family, work, school, and community events, it's critical to stay on track lest you run out of time.


8. Own a laptop or a personal computer

While many students get by with desktop computers at home, laptops make working on papers anywhere a breeze. With laptops you're not chained to your desk at home. If you get sent away on business by the boss, you can take the laptop with you and not miss a step.


9. Plan and cook ahead of time.

You may be running from work to class and not have time to cook a nice dinner. Plan your meals ahead of time, cook them, and package them in containers you can throw in a microwave before class. This will save you from having to eat fast-food every night before class. (It'll also save you many unnecessary pounds!)


10. Schedule down time.

Be sure to take personal time. Remember to take care of yourself and schedule gym time, salon time, reading time - whatever time it takes for you to feel rejuvenated. Life is a journey, not a destination