By Sarah Wright
Know when to take a day off.
This isn't to say that college students always know when it's appropriate to take a day off - some students take a little too much advantage of their freedom in this regard - but still, if you're sick, overwhelmed or just in need of a mental health break, don't hesitate to skip class every once in a long while.
Balance work and play.
Use your on-campus hours to get the most out of your classes, get your homework out of the way quickly and then let yourself have a good time.
Being an older student doesn't mean you can't be amazed and intrigued by what you learn.
Follow your interests.
You may feel obligated to focus on more practical academic subjects, but you shouldn't shy completely away from less career-oriented subjects that interest you. That's what electives are for. And you never know, you could end up building a career around your passions.
Realize your potential.
This is another area where your age shouldn't make one whit of difference in how you approach studenthood. You have the potential to accomplish a lot of the things that are important to you, and going to school should help you with that.
There are great opportunities out there for you.
Being a nontraditional student doesn't mean you don't get to feel excited about life after school. The education you're earning can open a lot of new doors for you.
Don't shy away from internship and other 'work for free' opportunities.
You may be accustomed to earning a paycheck, but experience is also pretty valuable.
It's not life-or-death.
Some college students are a little too blasé, but others take their work seriously while keeping a healthy awareness of the fact that messing up a couple of times isn't the end of the world.
School is a great way to meet people.
There are a lot of interesting people on any given college campus. Why not get to know them?
Put school as close to the top of your priority list as you can.
'Traditional' college students usually don't have much going on other than school and their social lives, and maybe a part time job. Non-traditional students usually have families or jobs to contend with, and those aspects of your life should be important. But you'll only be in school for a limited time, and you're paying for it. You should treat school as an important part of your life.
Some things are worth economizing for.
School is expensive, and a lot of people finance it with loans. It seems doubtful that the average college student would take out the equivalent amount of personal loans to, say, go on vacation. Education is worth the cost, and worth the financial sacrifices required to pay for it.
Enjoy your breaks.
Fall, spring, summer and winter breaks are great opportunities to take time for yourself, and maybe even take a vacation. It doesn't have to be a stereotypical college spring break, but you can still enjoy yourself.
Build a rapport with your professors.
Being a bit older than the typical college student probably means that you have a lot more in common with your professors than most.
Get to know your classmates.
You're going to be spending time with them, particularly those in your major, so you might as well get to know your fellow students.
You can treat studying as a social activity.
Studying for tests with friends and classmates is a great way to spend time with others and make studying more fun.
Check out these other tips for returning students.