A Guide Book for Adults Returning to College: Non-Traditional Students

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There are those people in life who by a very young age know exactly what they would like to do. They have it all mapped out; schools, universities, internships, careers and family. And then there are people like me. I was the college dropout who returned to school after a six year hiatus. I am the non-traditional student.

A non-traditional student is an adult who decides to return to school after the traditional college years of 18-24. For others like me, college life can be more meaningful after gaining some life experiences. Whether you are 25 or 45, and are returning to school to finish a degree or earn a new degree, adapting to the student life after many years could be both challenging and rewarding.


If you are thinking about returning to school and are troubled with obstacles of time management, fear of losing your social life, or worry about the difficulty studying and balancing your life, these are all normal challenges to encounter. There are many resources to help answer your questions and they are others like you out there.

I dropped out of college years ago because I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to study. And I couldn’t afford to continue. I couldn’t afford to keep changing my major, so I had to leave. I gave up my academic course because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. My decision didn’t arouse much debate at the time. No one knew how long it would really be before I returned. After a series of odd jobs, some I enjoyed, some I didn’t; retail sales, a medical receptionist, administrative secretary and bartending, I began to grow restless.


I grew restless because it wasn’t enough for me anymore. What seemed like an adventurous life was becoming more like a daunting uncertainty that I could no longer keep up with. I needed to stabilize myself; have a career, become financially independent and I needed to find a place in the world for me.

So I decided it was time to return to school. I was ready to be in a classroom again. (Learning is a lifelong experience.  It doesn’t have to stop because you’re an adult.)


More importantly, I decided on what I wanted to do and committed to taking the course. I always enjoyed writing. So I decided to study creative writing. I realized that it wasn’t enough to have a talent; I needed to return to school, to study and be in constant practice with the craft and art of writing.


By Rona Ramjas

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