Tips For Success As A Part-Time Student

Posted by on October 3, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Many people choose to be part time students because of family needs, financial needs, career requirements, or because they want to sample the college life before jumping in at full pace. Whatever the reason is, there are a few simple tips that will make your continuing education an enjoyable experience.

Know the Campus

One of the hardest feelings to build, as a part time student, is the sense of community. Most students who are familiar with the campus, the various educational departments, and their professors will have a better chance at success.

Before classes start, try to make face-to-face contact with your academic advisor, teachers, and other staff you will be working with. Don’t worry about what you will say, just introduce yourself and let them know you are interested in their class or program.

Also, don’t be afraid to look around campus. There are usually very few areas that you are not allowed into, beyond secure dormitories. Look for the computer labs, library, cafeteria, and the classrooms you will be going to.

Other areas you may want to locate are tutoring centers or math and writing labs. These are places where you can work with other students and professors to improve your skills and aske questions about homework.

On Campus or Near Campus Jobs

Many colleges offer jobs within their various departments and programs. Enquire at Student Services or the financial office if you qualify for any college or federal programs such as work-study. Also, keep up to date on the college’s public postings by checking with the Human Services office.

Having a job on or near campus will drastically cut down your commuting hours. There is also a greater chance that they will work with your class schedule.

Buy Used Books

Books are one of the highest expenses other than tuition. It is especially important for a part time student to get the best deal possible. If you are purchasing books from the book store, ask for used books. You may want to quickly flip through them to see what condition they are in before choosing one.

Another option is to ask your professor for the name, edition, and author of the book, before class starts, and shop online at locations such as You will be able to locate several sellers for the books you need, and chances are, you will find the books for half off or better.

Library Use

Most part time students worry about finding the time to use the library for research. Speak to the campus librarian about the library’s online references. Most colleges have access to online catalogues, books and magazines, as well as other resource materials. These can be accessed from anywhere including home or work.

Part time students may also want to speak to a local community library. These often have similar resources and may even have more extensive links to other databases. You may have to purchase a library membership, but a few dollars is worth the time it will save you.

Jump Drive/Flash Drive

It is extremely useful to purchase a small Jump Drive, also known as a Flash or Thumb drive. This device replaces the need for disks and travels easily with you. These are great for transferring papers and projects from a home or work computer to another machine or to the school’s computer lab. The small drive allows the student to quickly access their files.

Due Dates

If the teacher, after the first couple of classes, has not provided you with a list of tentative due-date for papers and other projects, ask them if they would consider doing so. Having a list will let you plan your schedule with greater ease, and if possible, allow you to finish some of the work ahead of schedule.

It is a good idea to tack these lists on the wall beside your home computer or other areas you use for study. Also, cross off dates as they pass and assignments as you complete them. This will let you know if you are doing well with the work load or if you need to reevaluate your scheduling.

Know When to Rest

Between work, school, and other deadlines, it is important to know when to push through a difficult task and when to give your body and mind a break.

Every student has times when they feel they are stuck, swamped, or emotionally drained. When this become too distracting or is taking a toll on your health, know that it is ok to stop and take a break. You may want to tell your professor or advisor that you are having difficulties and, often times, they will try to work out a plan that will accommodate some of your needs.

Most of your teachers are not as inhuman as some think, even though there are always a few that are not able to make adjustments for you. If one person does not give you the support you need, look to others for assistance. Just be sure that you are constantly putting in your best effort and your hardest work.

Support Group

Being a part time student has many advantages and can be a positive step in life. If you feel like it is not working out, ask for help. By making friends with other part time students and people working on the same degree as you are, you can create a support group. These people don’t have to be your best friends, just fellow students with similar goals.

Continuing your education is worth the effort you put into it. Make sure it feels right, that you are willing to work hard, and know what your limits are. You will be glad you took the time.

by Sarah Perryman

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