Technology, Teenagers & Tests, Oh My! Success Tips for Adults Heading to College

Posted: September 7, 2015

This week, we welcome guest bloggers Jacqueline Myers from Nitty-Gritty English!

Heading to college is scary. Heading to college as an adult can be terrifying! I know. I’ve been there! Regardless of why you are heading back to the classroom, most likely you will be taking at least some online college courses to round out your degree. When considering online courses, adult students are typically apprehensive about:

  • Understanding the technology
  • Keeping up with typical college students
  • Handling the workload
Let’s look at each of these concerns individually, so you really know where you stand.

First of all, you may be worried that you won’t understand the types of technology that are required when taking online college courses. But as an online educator, I can tell you that if you can upload an attachment in an email, private message friends on Facebook and use basic word-processing programs like Microsoft Word, you have the beginnings of a successful online college career! Online college course platforms are created to be user-friendly. Asking your professor a question about an assignment is just like typing an email or private messaging a friend on Facebook. Typing up the assignment is like typing in any word-processing program you have used. And, uploading that assignment is very similar to uploading a document in an email.

Quick-start tip: Log into your class the first day it’s available and take the time to explore where everything is. Once you figure out how the class is set up, you will feel much more confident about completing the course successfully! Log in often to make sure you are keeping on top of work and so that you don’t miss any important announcements or emails. 
If you are enrolled in an online college, you will probably find that most of the students are adults, who, like you, want to attain a higher education to improve their job opportunities. Just knowing that you won’t be the only 40-something sitting in a classroom with teenagers should make you feel more assured! Still worried you won’t be able to perform as well as those who just finished high school, and so are used to doing homework and taking exams? Let me set your mind at ease! Every semester, without fail, some of the top students in each of my classes are non-traditional students who are passionate about meeting their higher educational goals. You may be out of practice of doing homework, but think about the life lessons you’ve had that the typical college student hasn’t. Typical college students often don’t understand the opportunity they have been given by earning a college degree. They haven’t been under-employed and working for less than they are worth because they need to meet all of their financial obligations. You do. That knowledge puts you head and shoulders above the average college student! Don’t sell yourself, your experiences and your desire short!

Okay, you are pumped now and ready to take on those online college courses. But what about the work load? How will you manage to do the assignments, reading and all the rest, on top of all of the other responsibilities you have, perhaps including a job and family? I’m not going to blow smoke and tell you it will be easy. It won’t be. I returned to college to earn my Master’s degree 15 years after I was an undergraduate. The first time I was in college, the Internet wasn’t a real thing, let alone online college courses! I worked full-time and had a family. I was a very busy woman. But, I was satisfied. I was excited about what I was learning and proud of myself for taking on this challenge—I had always wanted to go back to school, and I was doing it! If you really want a college degree, you will make it work! It took me twice as long to get my Masters, but I did it and it was worth the hard work and sacrifice! I’m not special. I just really wanted it. And you can do it too!

Quick-start tip: Find a scheduling system that works for you and use it religiously. It doesn’t matter if it’s a paper planner, desk calendar or a fancy app. Schedule time to “attend class” a couple of times a week, just as if you were physically going to a classroom. Set up an area of the house where you can “go to school.” These choices will greatly improve your change of success!

Want to learn more strategies for being successful in online college courses? Great! Let me help! Check out my new book, Your Online College Course Survival Guide. You can learn more about it at

Jacqueline Myers has been improving writing skills since the 1990’s and is still hard at work, struggling to put an end to comma splices and stamp out accidental plagiarism. She is an online college English professor and a freelance writer & editor, as well as the owner & writing expert at Nitty-Gritty English, a site dedicated to providing academic writing tips to the reluctant college writer. Have questions about college writing or online courses? She’s all about answering them. Send them to her at jsm@nittygrittyenglish or post them on the Nitty-Gritty English Facebook Page. 

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