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Helping Adult Students Stay in School

Helping Adult Students Stay in School

30 April, 2016

Nontraditional adult students, those 25 and older, often find it challenging to stay in school because, face it, it can be a real challenge to work full time, raise a family, pursue personal interests, and go back to school.

Going back to the classroom, whether online or on campus, means attending class, finding time to read, write papers, and study for tests. Without a little help from family, friends, and college administrators, many of these students find staying in school more than they can handle.

Community colleges are especially good at providing nontraditional students assistance in various ways.

As teachers, here are some ways that can keep adult students in school until they graduate

1.  Help Them Find Financial Aid

Finding the funds to go back to school can be the single most daunting roadblock for adult students who have a long list of financial responsibilities. Financial help is available for almost all students in the United States through the FAFSA. Help your adult students fill out the complicated application and understand the deadlines.

Scholarships are available by the dozens in almost every community. Offer your students with a list of available scholarships and help them decide which ones are they might be eligible for. Help them apply, and ensure they understand what the scholarship money can be used for. Some students are surprised to learn that it’s okay to pay utility bills and buy books with their scholarship dollars.

If you have expert resources available, offer nontraditional students who want it advice on managing their finances. Many adults have never been taught how to manage money, or had the responsibility. They might be grateful for any tips you can give.

2.  Help Them Make Connections

Many adult students feel like they are the only ones on campus undergoing those kinds of problems. This is not true, of course. Help your nontraditional students network with others like themselves who can talk about similar issues, share resources, and help each other navigate campus. This can take the form of student organizations and clubs, special lounges, peer mentors, specially assigned faculty members, groups for veterans, family-friendly events, even listservs.

Many campuses have clubs for minorities of all kinds, including LGBT. Make sure your students know the important connections they can make with these groups. It can make all the difference in their happiness on campus and their resulting success. Happy students learn better and faster.

Joining a club or society on campus can provide your students the leadership experience they need to become managers and supervisors. Many campus clubs offer student ambassadors chances to participate in cultural events as well.

3.  Help Them Become Familiar with Campus Accommodations

Registration workshops for new adult students can greatly help with back to school fears and anxiety. Make sure your students are familiar with all the tools you give, including counselors who can help them choose what path to take, tests that give them credit for past life experience (CLEP), tutors, honor societies, pocket guides, and all other tools particular to your campus.

Some students will be very excited about child care options your campus might provide, adult-friendly class times (evenings, weekends), extended library and computer lab hours, family orientations, and health and wellness programs.

Almost everyone can benefit from time management tips, but especially nontraditional adult students juggling several aspects of life.