How to Succeed as a Non-Traditional Student? | Aim For Your Goal

How to Succeed as a Non-Traditional Student
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Nayreth Garcia

Content Writer At Gradehacker

Nontraditional students have busy schedules, and college can sometimes feel like a second job. When you have to work, take care of your family, and go to school, it can be hard to find the time to study, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We encourage all adult students to pursue their educational goals; that’s why we will tell you how to succeed as a nontraditional student in this article.

College is not just a fun ride for nontraditional students, and we know it’s not your whole life either since you have many other things to carry on your back. But this doesn’t mean you don’t value some aspects of it, such as creating a social connection with students who have similar situations.

Gradehacker has years of experience helping nontraditional students, making their college life easier while walking with them along the path of getting their degree. You can read our article What is a Nontraditional College Student? to learn more about it.

In this article, we’ll tell you some points to consider to have the nontraditional student success you need.

What Makes You An Non-Traditional Student?

First of all, it’s important to identify the differences between a traditional and a nontraditional student. Nontraditional students are more common than you might think; 40% of the current undergraduate population at American colleges and universities are nontraditional

In general, there is a group of college applicants who have been out of the traditional educational system. This means that they didn’t start college right after finishing high school. The definition can be too broad, but here are some of the characteristics you need to have to consider yourself a nontraditional student:

Don’t Lose Focus. Always Aim For Your Long-Term Goal.

Don’t think about the next class that you need to take to graduate. Aim for the goal of not only becoming a more successful college student but a successful person, look beyond the next semester and think about your long-term goals. Do you want to become a lawyer? A doctor? A nurse? 

Make sure to follow your goals and consider the fact that you have family and work responsibilities that prevent you from doing all the online courses required for the degree you are studying for because you may not have enough study time. The point is to take your time and work on your weaknesses. Don’t expect to do well in your education if you ignore your other commitments.

Organization Is Key

For nontraditional students, sitting in a classroom or starting an online class isn’t the same. Set a schedule and keep in mind that you may have to sacrifice some personal space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep the essentials in one place and keep them handy. 

Whether it’s your planner, textbooks, or even your laptop, ensure everything is within arm’s reach, so you don’t miss an important assignment. Flashcards are an efficient option; you can read our article Making and Studying Flashcards: 5 Tips That Will Make the Difference for some inspiration.


When you have a large workload, it’s easy to forget a few things. It’s recommended that you set aside at least one hour every day for your study time and get things done. You may not devote that much time to your studies, but every hour you can set aside for studying will help a lot for your academic performance.

Find Your Perfect Space To Study

We all know the feeling that when you are studying, you want to get away from everything else. That’s why in the very first step of setting up your study space, find a way to clear your head. If you need some inspiration, read our article 6 Ways To Create an Ideal Study Environment.

Try reading in a nice quiet place or sitting in the same room as your children when they are watching their favorite cartoons or taking a nap. Make your study space your own. It is what makes you feel comfortable and helps you focus on your studies. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Get that book your professor requires for the semester, and if it’s something you don’t understand, don’t get frustrated. You’re a learner, and it’s part of the process. Besides, you can always discuss it or ask a classmate. 

Take Care Of Your Physical And Mental Health

As a nontraditional student, you are not in the same position as other students to meet every university’s daily demands. So if you don’t do it for your sake, do it for your family because they are depending on you. Your health is essential, and it will keep you energized and focused on achieving outstanding academic performance.

If you find that you can’t find the time to take care of your body and your mind, talk to your professors and ask for time off, or don’t sign up for the courses you know you won’t have time for. The Importance of Mental Health in College Students is no joke. Luckily, if you don’t want to leave a course and you need help, you can always contact our Gradehacker team and see which of our services will help you relieve a little bit of pressure from your life.

If you’re too tired to focus on your schoolwork, then achieving success in college will be uphill. Some students work, while others are raising children, and others are even raising grandkids. Your life is not perfect, and if you make it worse by not eating or sleeping properly, you’re going to fail in having academic success. 

As an adult learner, it is important to take care of yourself so that you can get good grades and pass your courses. Make time for your education. Find the right time to study. If you have an active personal life, go out to your favorite restaurant, go to the gym, watch a movie, have fun, but don’t forget to study.

Keep Up With Your Classes, Don’t Let Everything Pile Up

One of the main things that make us think a nontraditional student would be unable to have educational success in college is because they don’t keep up with their classes. Most adult learners believe that if they fail a course, they’ve lost any chance of graduating. 

If you do drop a class, you don’t have to give up altogether. Retake the class and do well on the second try. It could really boost your GPA. In case you need a helping hand, you can check our Entire Class Bundle Service.

Be careful with your time. If you let all of your assignments pile up, it will be very stressful for you. Keep a schedule and try to dedicate at least 1 hour of your day to your assignments. 

Adult learners need to apply themselves in their classes just as much as their traditional peers. Not only is this a way to learn things and make connections that can help you in future courses, but it’s also a great way to gain practical work experience.

Don’t Be Ashamed And Get Help When You Need It

If you’re someone who often feels overwhelmed by what you have to do, you may need some help from other people to cope. It can be anyone in your family or close friends. It could be your aunt, brother, roommate, or even your mom. The more support you have, the more you will be able to manage your time and study effectively.

Online classes are great if you need the flexibility and convenience of studying when and where you want. They can be customized to your needs and will be helpful to you if you can’t seem to fit in a class on a specific day.

If you’re having a bad time with one of your classes or need an essay with urgency, Gradehacker can be your lifesaver!

Taking a college class is never easy, but you will have a much better time if you have a positive attitude. Even if you are going back to school at the age of 50, it is quite a challenge, but you keep pushing and recognize the amazing feat you are undergoing. Remember, you are in college for education, so continue to push yourself and achieve your goals.

Join clubs and student organizations if you can. Students shouldn’t feel like they’re alone. This will help you meet people who share similar interests as you and even some who will be enrolled in your same classes.

Adult learners need to apply themselves in their classes just as much as their traditional peers. Not only is this a way to learn things and make connections that can help you in future courses, but it’s also a great way to gain practical work experience.

No matter how busy your life is, it is important to stick to your academic goals. Make a plan, if you can, study more often as this will improve your performance and increase your self-confidence. If you like to succeed, you need to be confident that you can finish the course and degree. Keep studying when your mood is good, and try to get the most out of your time.

You can always visit our learning center to find out more about nontraditional students, scholarships, and everything college-related: