Advice for Nontraditional Students


Most of our students work full-time and have a family, so we understand the pressures faced by nontraditional students. Our advisors have developed the following tips for lifelong learners at CCE.

It may be hard at times.

No one said college was going to be easy. As the old saying goes, nothing worthwhile is easy. Many of you who are thinking about applying to our programs or are currently enrolled are balancing work, school, family and other personal obligations. It’s going to take hard work, dedication and sacrifice in order to be successful as an adult student, but it’ll be worth it once you have that degree or certificate in hand.

Don’t be discouraged.

There are going to be moments where you’ll feel that you can’t do it. You’re going to leave work and not want to sit in class for three hours. You’re going to dread writing that 10-page paper on the weekend instead of going to a family barbeque. You’re going to feel guilty for not spending as much time with your kids. It’s perfectly normal to feel this way, but don’t let these doubts defeat you. You might face challenges along the way, but allow yourself to give your best effort and a chance to succeed.

Give yourself a reasonable workload.

If you have unreasonable expectations concerning the amount of time a program requires, you will not succeed.

Keep in mind the amount of time you will spend in class, plus any homework or projects required. Then think about what else you do during the week — things like commuting, sleeping, running errands, or spending time with your family. It’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking you don’t have enough time to do everything.

Talk to your family about needing time to study. Realize that succeeding in college takes a lot of time.

Don’t expect to do less work because you’re busy.

You may feel the pressure of your busy schedule and want to complain to your instructor about how you work full-time, go to school, have a family and therefore can’t be expected to complete all of your assignments. You are not the first student to experience this. Many students before you have successfully completed the coursework, so it can be done. It is your responsibility to fit the coursework into your busy life and not your instructor’s responsibility to change the course to fit your schedule. Successful students manage to fit the coursework into their busy schedules.


There may be times when you feel that there just isn’t enough time to get things done exactly the way you want it done. You may have to trade in excellence for efficiency. You won’t be judged by one project alone. So maybe you got a ‘B’ this time because you had to take care of a sick kid or had to put in long hours at work. Just keep your eye on the prize.


It seems like a long time away, but the last day of your program will be here before you know it. Along the way, don’t forget to celebrate those milestones, like returning to school after several years and feeling proud to complete a whole semester, or taking three courses in a row while working full-time. Whatever the accomplishment is, big or small, give yourself permission to be proud of your hard work.