Are you a “nontraditional student”? If you are in school or considering going back to school and you are not in the 18-25 age range, odds are you can check yes to that question!
Just thinking about fitting school and homework into my already overtaxed schedule gives me anxiety and makes me want to grab the nearest deep fried food and eat my feelings. However, thousands of “nontraditional” students do it every day and actually survive to graduate!
So to save my body the arduous task of processing all things fried, I decided to do some searching to alleviate my anxiety. Here is a mash-up of some great advice from both human and web resources (with my own twist of course).
If you’re like me, this is the first obstacle to going back to school. Unlike my 18-year-old self, I now have to pay for braces, glasses, contacts, clothes, food and other life-sustaining items for more than just myself. Many times the money mountain just seems too big to climb. Fortunately, today there are many scholarships and grants available to nontraditional students. Not sure where to find them? Start by calling Military OneSource. Let them do the leg work for you. You might be surprised how full your inbox gets with scholarship possibilities. Don’t be picky either. Apply for ALL of the scholarships that you even remotely qualify for. All you lose is time, and the worst thing that could happen is they say no. Have a supply of chocolate on hand for rejection, but don’t overdo it!
The next thing to trip me up has always been time. Time is not something we can fix by applying for a scholarship to get awarded an extra 130 hours to dedicate to school. The good news is that just as nontraditional students now flood the halls of academia, academia offers some nontraditional halls for us to flood! Brick and mortar education is no longer the only option. Online classes, self-paced and even accelerated learning programs are literally popping up everywhere. Take time to find the one that is right for you, and make sure they have the proper accreditations.
It’s not just class time you have to work into your life. You have to find the time to study, complete projects and get all your assignments completed on time. If you are able, schedule “homework time” and put it in your calendar. Make sure you treat it as you would any other appointment or date. It is OK to politely decline other events and activities and protect your personal education dates!
When our schedules get jam-packed, the first thing to go is our personal health. We cut out sleep, eat poorly and skip exercise. It’s a well-known fact that we perform better if we have enough rest, good nutrition and moderate exercise, but those go first! Think of investing in your health the same as investing in your education because that is exactly what it is—an investment! If you make time to eat well, sleep and exercise (your body AND your brain), your anxiety levels will go down, especially as test time approaches.
It’s not easy juggling a family, home, life in the military and a job, or any combination of these things. Now may not be the time for you to go back to school, and if it’s not, that’s OK too, but you will never know unless you try. So take the first step, and see if there is a program right for you and your family! Before you know it, you will be picking up your cap and gown and planning how to celebrate!