Tips for Non-Traditional Students

Top 12 Ways to Make the Most of Being a Non-Traditional Student at the University of Kansas

1. Keep your eyes on the prize

The real prize that is! Identify your internal motivation for coming to the university and seeking a degree and keep that in the forefront of your mind when the going gets tough. It might be a while until you get your dream job and the big paychecks start coming in, but the inner feelings of achievement and satisfaction along the way can make all the difference in the long run.

2. Be realistic in your goals.

Sometimes, conflicting priorities make doing your best impossible. At those times, remember that "good enough" is very often the best you can do at the time.

3. Enlist support from your family and friends.

Involve them in your life as a student, but let them know that you will still be there for them as you hope they are there for you. Bring them to campus and show them where you "live" - where your classes are, where you study and take breaks, where you park! Not everyone will respond positively, but remember that growth sometimes causes relationships to change. Let them know how they can best help you to do and to be your best.

4. Get to know other students.

In class: exchange class notes, find a study partner or a group, plan to discuss the lecture each day with someone who walks in your direction. Outside of class: eat lunch with KU Nontrads, join a Student Senate or university governance/ planning committee, check out events on campus. There are ways to be a part of campus life that can be limited and time-effective. Ask for more details.

5. Get to know your professors.

Talk to them as often as possible - out of class, after class, before class, in their offices, at the union over a cup of coffee, when you see them at the grocery store. Talk about the class, talk about their research, talk about Jayhawk basketball, or Chiefs football or Royals baseball or Springsteen or Mozart! Tell them about your "other" life besides being a student. Get explanations and clarifications. Make a friend for life and a reference for the future.

6. Make the most of every class.

Take complete notes and review/edit them as soon as you can. Participate in class discussion, but don't monopolize it. Read assignments before lecture so you're ready to synthesize what you hear with what you read.

7. Become an informed student.

When you have a problem, ask questions, collect facts, consult people from a variety of offices. It usually takes many "heads" to solve problems. You're not in this alone!

8. Learn how to use the libraries at KU.

There are many libraries at the University of Kansas, but all are interconnected electronically. All offer instructional informational tours. Don't hesitate to ask library staff for help when you need it. They will welcome the opportunity to be of assistance.

9. Visit University Career Center in the Burge Union and/or the Career Counseling Program in Counseling and Psychological Services in Watkins Health Center.

Explore yourself, strengths, preferences, and values at the University Career Center. Look at the job market today and in the future. Check out internships and summer/school year employment opportunities. Update your resume to reflect new skills and experiences you'll be adding every semester.

10. Brush up on your writing and study skills.

The KU Writing Center and Academic Achievement and Access Center have offices and great websites. Everything they offer is free, so why not take advantage of it?

11. Ask for help when you need it!

KU has many resources (often paid for by your fees!) but it's up to you to ask for them and use them. Successful people always use the support of all help available.

12. Embrace Technology.

Jump right into the world of computers by signing up for short courses through KU Information Technology. These courses are free for students. They cover everything from e-mail and the internet to using word processing, spreadsheet, and data base software. Learn to use the KU home page for access to information. Try the digital Jayhawk site for news about events on campus. Read the UDK on the web. Open and use your personal e-mail account.


The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.