Non-traditional student offers college advice

Ryan_WebAs a non-traditional student I have experienced the business world after college which most college students haven’t. I went to Iowa State from 1990-1994 and graduated with a degree in business. Upon graduation I went into the business world for five years before taking a part-time job which I turned into my full-time career for the last 20 years.

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What helped me the most from graduating college?  First of all, getting the degree shows that you have done something. You have accomplished something outside of your parents house.

When going in for a job interview or even applying for a job, often employers will make piles of résumés and decisions simply based on education that you have achieved.  And to get from the lower pile up to being interviewed for the job or even as far as getting the job, there is a hurdle to jump over without that college degree.

Now within those college years, what do you take for classes and what do you get involved in on campus?


I took a lot of business, speech and journalism classes that have been directly beneficial to my job skills.  Other classes, like history, taught me how to do research correctly and efficiently and accounting taught me how to depend on others to do things that I didn’t like to do.

The elective classes I took such as bowling and religious diversity allowed me to look into other hobbies and interests that later came back into my life. Yes, electives are fun, but make sure there is a reason for taking the class. For example, it could be to experiment in an area that interests you, but make sure to get something more out of it than just 3 credits and 45 hours of class time.


How about getting involved in other things while experiencing the college life?  I personally got involved in a couple organizations for different reasons.

The first “association” I joined was a college social fraternity. I joined in because my best friend joined and I thought it might help my social life. Fortunately, the fraternity boosted my social life and I felt more confident.

A college fraternity in the 1990s was 1/3rd guys living together, 1/3rd guys growing together, and 1/3rd guys socializing together. The living and growing together portion of fraternity life helped me with learning how to deal with other people that I’m not related to and not being able to complain to mom and dad.

Learning from the upperclassmen and helping the underclassmen was standard activities around the house. By socializing, I was taught how to deal with real world situations, especially in a business career.

My campus life consisted of fraternity stuff, a Christian association that my girlfriend (eventually wife) brought me to, and several other groups. They taught me how to work with other people, put forth proposals, and deal with a hierarchy of the association. This is like working with your cohorts in an office.

Keep this in mind, college experience is a personal experience. Take advice from me and don’t spend too much time in only one area. Make sure to experience all that college has to offer, and remember it’s not just study, party and sleep.

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