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So, you are planning on going back to college, and you are scared because you aren't eighteen anymore. Relax, many of us college students aren't eighteen anymore. The national average age for college students has been on the rise for many years, and there is no end in sight.

You are probably asking yourself, What do I need to know before I apply to college? What is the best advice? Don't overdo it the first semester!

Take as many credit hours as you think that you will be able to comfortably handle. If you work full-time, then maybe you should just try one or two classes until you see how it goes.

If you don't work, and you feel sure that you can handle full-time college, then go for it! Remember to figure between 4-8 hours per week per class of study time if you expect to get a grade of B or higher. For 12 credit hours (these are the minimum amount to be considered full-time), this can add up to a whopping 36 hours of class hours and homework total per week.

After you've decided on the amount of credit hours, it is time to decide which college to attend. Non-traditional students get a much more individualized curriculum at the smaller branches, as do all of the students. There is much more one-on-one attention from your professor. There also are much smaller classes at smaller technical schools, universities, and community colleges.

Now that you know how many hours and what school you want to attend, you need to pay for it! Before scheduling your classes, be sure to talk to the financial aid office. You can apply for a variety of student loans and federal grants.

Also be sure to check if this school offers any scholarships for non-traditional students. This is a scholarship for a student over 25, usually. Also be sure to check the bulletin boards that are sure to display various scholarships both outside the financial aid office and also in the area of the school where the classes are for your major.

If you are planning to work at least part-time, check to see if your college might hire you. If they do, usually any money that you earn will NOT count toward income when your financial aid is figured. This is part of another government program to help students afford college.

After you get your finances in order, it is time to decide on a major unless you have already. To help you with this, there are job placement tests and also aptitude tests that can aid you in your quest for a major. Ask about these tests in the registration office.

Here are some frequently asked questions by the adult student:

What do I need for my classes?

Here is a supply list:

1. A large organizer or folder that has at least four folders built in with pockets.

2. Buy plenty of wide-rule notebook paper. (Your kids swipe it)

3. Have at least 10 pencils and pens. (The kids love these, too.)

4. A small stapler is a great thing to have.

5. A few highlighters for marking up your brand new or used books that just cost you so much. (Yes, marking in your books really helps you study)

6. You should buy a backpack or book bag that is comfortable when it has at least twenty pounds in it.

How will I fit in with all these younger people?

1. Adult students have an advantage over younger students, for they have tasted life. As long as you conduct yourself in an appropriate manner, you will be respected. The teenage students will look up to you, and often ask for your opinion. (This is not ALWAYS a good thing, but in the first year of college it will help you belong.)

2. If you understand something, offer to help a student that you see struggling. This will help you to make friends. (Be careful! Once they know you will help, they will seek you out in the cafeteria, the parking lot, or even call your house.) This can really cut into study-time.

3. If you interact in class, the other students will see your self-confidence and respond to you better. Do not just sit there. Volunteer answers and even to get up and give examples for the Professor.

4. Say hi to people that you know from your classes. This will help you to make more friends.

5. In the cafeteria, ask to sit with people or just sit down at a half-full table. Go ahead! They won't bite.

How am I going to get all this work done with everything else that I do?

1. Many adult students ask this question of themselves.

2. You must learn to budget your time. You must learn to say no!

3. You must make everyone in the house respect your study time.

Tips for studying:

1. Find a place that is comfortable and always study there. The optimal place would be quiet, comfortable, and well lit. (Not everyone is so lucky. Take what you can get.)

2. Try to do your homework and reading as soon as you get home. This is a good habit to get into if you are able to do this.

3. Stay current with your reading and studies. If you fall behind, your grades could easily fall as well.

4. Have other people start to pitch in and help out around the house. Things that you used to do may need to be shouldered by someone else. If you have kids, this is a great chance to teach your kid responsibility. It may take some adjustment, but after awhile you will get into a routine that works for you.

5. Don't procrastinate on major assignments like term papers and projects. Start on these as soon as the teacher gives you all of the info on them.

6. Try not to miss class. If you start skipping your classes, it will become harder to go each day. It will become a very bad habit that will make your grades plummet. Go to class everyday!

7. If you follow all of these tips, you will have much less stress in your life.

Am I too old to learn?

Absolutely not! Anyone can learn anything at any age. This is a thirty-something student with a 3.9 accumulate average talking to you. I was out of school for thirteen years before going to college as a freshman. You can do this!

It may be difficult to get into a routine at first, but you will be so glad that you went back to school. Hopefully, this article answered many of your questions. Most of us adult students ask ourselves, "Why did it take me so long to go back to school?" This is the best gift that you could give yourself- the gift of knowledge.

Good luck!