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The Advantages to Being a Re-entry Student

January 25, 2008 By: Category: The Nontraditional Student

When you think about going back to school, do you feel a little twinge that you might not measure up against the more traditional, fresh-out-of-high-school 18-year-olds?

Sure, it’s been a little longer since you took calculus or English lit, but you can put those insecurities to rest.  As a nontraditional student, you have a lot of significant advantages over younger students.

You’ve learned to be accountable
The time you’ve spent living on your own has taught you a lot about meeting deadlines, applying yourself and getting things done.

Not only will these skills help you in mastering your coursework, you can use them to your advantage by creating a project plan for the scholarships you want to apply for. Put financial aid applications on your calendar and get them submitted early (financial experts say this is one of the most important factors in winning scholarship dollars). Remember that your plan should include follow-up with financial aid counselors to unearth little-known scholarships you may qualify for.

You know what you want to be when you grow up
The years you’ve spent out of school have clarified your focus. You’ve been in the workforce long enough to gain a realistic understanding of what you want to move toward-and what you want to avoid. That gives you a real advantage over traditional students, who often spend a year or two drifting without knowing where to put their energy.

You’ve learned to manage your time
You’ll find yourself amazed at the amount of time traditional students spend on unessential activities. No matter what kind of work you’ve been doing, you’ve learned the habit of setting aside blocks of time for important tasks and focusing on those tasks until they’re completed.

Life in the working world teaches us to schedule our time and set goals. And you’re less likely to wait until the last minute to complete complex assignments-which means better-quality work and better grades.

More and more schools are starting to embrace nontraditional students precisely because they have better work habits, more focus and more passion for their subject matter. So don’t let insecurity about being a “nontraditional” student hold you back. The skills and habits you’ve learned in the workforce will help you shine in your college career, too.