Returning Adult Student FAQs

You can begin your journey by finding the answers to some of your questions right here.

Will I fit into the college environment? Am I too old?

At the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, we don’t view learning as an age-related activity. We recognize that all of us learn throughout our lives, whether in a structured or an informal setting. And with the increasing demands on all of us today to stay abreast of the latest information and technologies, learning has truly become a life-long pursuit.

You’re never too old to learn, whether that means working toward a degree with a specific career goal in mind, or attending classes for personal fulfillment. At UW-Sheboygan we welcome people who want to learn for any reason.

Are you concerned that you may not “fit in” on campus? Because you’ve been out of school for quite awhile, do you think that you won’t look like the other students—that you’ll stick out? Don’t worry—chances are, you’ll fit right in. More than a third of all students here at UW-S are non-traditional students. That means that they’re just like you—returning to school after spending a considerable amount of time working and/or raising a family.

You should also know that our returning adult students report that they are made to feel most welcome in the classroom by professors and younger students, alike. Instructors especially appreciate adults’ willingness to participate in classroom discussion, contributing insights gained from real-life experiences. Typically, adult students not only fit in, but often become leaders by example, earning many of the academic honors and scholarships on our campus. You are also completely welcome to join any of our clubs! Contact Pam Fitzer if you are interested in joining our club just for adults!

Can I earn a degree even though I work full-time?

Yes. At UW-Sheboygan we make every effort to schedule courses to maximize accessibility, no matter what your schedule.

More than 35% of the students on the Sheboygan campus are returning to the classroom after having pursued other endeavors for several years. Most of these adult students are employed full-time and must attend classes around their work schedules and family obligations. We understand the needs and constraints of the adult student. There are a number of ways that you can complete the first two years of college and beyond at UW Sheboygan, even while you are working or taking care of a family. We offer:

  • Multiple sections of core English and math courses spread throughout the day for your convenience.
  • A variety of courses in all of the required general education categories—humanities, fine arts, social science, natural science, ethnic studies and interdisciplinary—in time slots from morning through evening.
  • A selection of evening courses guaranteed to allow a person to earn an Associate of Arts and Science Degree by attending evenings only.
  • A number of courses each semester that meet around lunch time.
  • Summer school courses in an accelerated format, allowing students to earn valuable credits in a relatively short period of time.
  • A large selection of UW Colleges online courses that do not require attendance on campus or participation at specific times of day.
  • Four Bachelor’s Degree programs, in collaboration with our four-year University of Wisconsin partners, allowing area adults to earn a B.S. or B.A. without ever leaving Sheboygan [link to Collaborative Degrees].

If I can’t attend classes full-time, how long will it take me to earn a degree?

Most adult students are particularly interested in knowing how long it will take them to earn a degree. Of course, the length of time varies with each student and depends, in part, upon whether or not a student has transferred any prior college credits to UW-Sheboygan. A credit evaluation is performed for every transfer student; a transfer credit report will follow the evaluation and an advisor will work with each student to determine how the transfer credits fit into the overall degree plan.

In general, students who work full-time or who have significant responsibilities at home are most comfortable with a part-time schedule, taking two courses (6-8 credits) at a time. If a student enrolls in two courses every fall, spring and summer semester, he/she will likely earn about 20 credits per year. Since the Associate Degree requires a minimum of 60 credits, it will take a part-time student about three years to graduate from UW-Sheboygan. A full-time student can usually complete the Associate Degree in two years. The Associate Degree marks the approximate half-way point to a Bachelor’s Degree.

What about the credits I earned at another college? Will they transfer to UW-Sheboygan?

When a prospective student applies to UW-Sheboygan, he/she is asked to provide official transcripts from each post-secondary school attended. These official transcripts must be sent directly to the Student Affairs Office. Our registrar carefully evaluates each transcript and provides a report to each newly admitted student, showing exactly how many credits earned are transferable to UW Colleges. The report also shows which UW Colleges’ courses are equivalent to courses completed at another college.

In general, credits earned at an accredited, liberal arts institution of higher education are highly transferable. Liberal studies courses completed at a technical school or in the military services may also be transferable. In all cases, transferability of credit is subject to the decision of the UW Colleges’ Office of the Registrar.

After your credit evaluation is complete, an advisor at UW-Sheboygan will meet with you to show you how previously earned credits will apply toward your intended major and your degree.

If you have earned prior credit at another University of Wisconsin System institution or at a Wisconsin Technical College System institution, in most cases you will be able to predict how your credits will transfer to UW-Sheboygan by using the Credit Transfer Wizard feature of the UW’s Transfer Information System (link to TIS).

How will I know what classes to take?

Advisors will be on hand every step of the way to assist you with class selection. They can provide valuable insight and make sure that you enroll in courses that will help you progress toward your educational and career goals in the most efficient manner possible. We are very aware that adult students, in particular, want to be certain that they are taking the shortest possible route toward graduation.

One tool that will help ensure that you are enrolled in the correct courses is the placement test. After you receive your letter of admission to the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, you will be given an opportunity to take placement tests in English and math (and foreign language, if needed). All entering UW students take math and English placement tests unless they are transfer students who have already received credit for courses at the required competency level in those subjects.

Don’t worry—placement test scores do not affect your admission to the University. In fact, placement tests take place after you are already admitted. Test results simply allow advisors to place you in the most appropriate level of English and mathematics courses. Many adult students worry about taking placement tests—especially the math placement—because they may have been away from the classroom for a considerable period of time. Rest assured that UW-Sheboygan offers both math and English courses at a wide range of levels, from simple to advanced, in order to match each student’s experience and needs. Learning is often a step-wise process—sometimes it’s just a matter of discovering where you should start.

You’ll be informed when it’s time to register for classes. You and your advisor will select courses which fulfill general education requirements and the specific course requirements of your chosen major. Each semester, your advisor will work closely with you to choose carefully the courses that will best help you to make progress toward your degree.

What is an Associate of Arts and Science Degree and how will it help me reach my goals? Can I earn a Bachelor’s Degree at UW-Sheboygan?

As a University of Wisconsin Colleges student at UW-Sheboygan, you can earn the Associate of Arts and Science (AAS) Degree. This degree encompasses the liberal arts requirements that act as the foundation courses for your major and for your Bachelor’s Degree. The UW Colleges Associate Degree gives you the tools you need to acquire new knowledge—that is, it teaches you how to learn, so you can more easily adapt to an ever-changing world and workplace.

The Associate Degree is an important indicator along your educational path, marking the half-way point on your journey toward a Bachelor’s Degree. It also signals to employers that, as a degree holder, you have advanced skills in communication, critical thinking, group dynamics, mathematical reasoning, and awareness and appreciation of other cultures—valuable assets vital to success in today’s workplace. Most importantly, the UW Colleges Associate Degree enables you to put three very powerful words on your resume—University of Wisconsin.

You say that the Associate Degree is not your goal, but rather, you’re only interested in earning a Bachelor’s Degree? Most of our graduates do, in fact, go on to pursue a four-year degree. What you may not realize is that, although students at UW-S are not required to earn the Associate Degree prior to transfer, there are two very good reasons for doing so:

  • The four-year University of Wisconsin campuses recognize an Associate Degree from the UW Colleges as having fulfilled all of their campus’ general education requirements (even if small differences in requirements exist between the two institutions). When you transfer to the four-year UW institution, your core and breadth requirements will have been met.
  • In order to be accepted into the department corresponding to your major at a four-year UW institution, it is often a requirement that you first earn at least 58 credits and complete all or most of your general education requirements, including any required foundation courses for your major. If you have earned the Associate Degree and have included the necessary foundation courses in your curriculum while at UW-S, for most majors you will have met the requirements for admission into the department of choice by the time you finish your sophomore year.

Of course, UW-Sheboygan recognizes that a Bachelor’s Degree and beyond is often your primary goal. For working, place-bound adults in the Sheboygan area, however, commuting an hour or more to a larger campus is neither a desirable nor practical option. By collaborating with some of our UW partners, we now offer a number of Bachelor Degree options (and one Master’s option) that do not require you to commute. All advanced courses can be completed on our campus and/or online. See more information about our collaborative degrees at (add link to new collaborative degrees page here).

Where do I start? How do I apply?

It’s really rather simple to apply to UW-Sheboygan. Here are the things we need to receive from you in order to complete your admissions file:

  • A UW System application. You can simply apply online at
  • A $44 application fee (if you have not previously attended UW-Sheboygan as a degree-seeking student). You can pay the fee in the Business Services Office or, if applying electronically, you can charge the fee by selecting that option on the application site.
  • High School transcripts. You should request that official copies of your high school transcripts be sent to:

Student Affairs Office
University of Wisconsin Sheboygan
One University Drive
Sheboygan, WI 53081

  • If you earned a GED or HSED, request that an official copy be sent to the address above, in addition to your high school transcript.
  • College transcripts. If you have previously attended any post-secondary institution, request that your former college send an official copy to the address above. Remember to include with your request any fee that your former institution may charge.

That’s it! Because you’re an adult student who is over 21 years of age, we don’t need ACT or SAT scores. Age sometimes has its advantages.

After we have received all of the items above, you will receive a letter informing you of our admissions decision. The letter will also tell you what to do next.

Will I be able to receive financial aid or a scholarship?

Even if you think that your household income may be too great to allow you to be eligible for financial aid, you should apply. You may still qualify for some form of aid. Though certain household incomes may make some students ineligible to receive grant money (that is, money that does not have to be repaid), all students are eligible to receive money for school in the form of a student loan, which is also considered a form of aid. Student loans do not have to be repaid until six months after a student graduates or stops attending school—and the interest rates are quite reasonable.

To see if you are eligible for grants, loans or work study you must fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Filing the form costs you nothing, and, if eligible for aid, you are under no obligation to accept the offer.

Here are the steps to apply for and receive federal aid:

  1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can complete and submit the form online at or you can obtain a paper copy from the campus and place it in the mail. You will need to refer to a copy of your federal income tax form from the most recent reporting year (for example, if you are applying for aid for the 2013-2014 academic year, you must provide information from your 2012 tax form*).
  2. In two to four weeks, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the information you provided on the FAFSA. If you filed for aid electronically, you will be able to access the SAR online. If you filed by mail, a copy will be sent to you via regular mail. Check to make sure that all of the information on the SAR is correct. If there is an error, make the correction and return the SAR to the federal processor. You will be provided with a new, corrected copy.
  3. UW Colleges will receive an electronic copy of your SAR from the federal government and will calculate the amount of aid for which you are eligible based on tuition and fees at this campus and your financial need as reported on the SAR. In the meantime, you will work with an advisor to register for classes. You must be enrolled in at least six credits (usually two classes) in order to be eligible for most types of aid. A $100 advanced tuition deposit is required in order for you to register, even if you expect to receive aid. (In rare instances, this deposit can be deferred, but a student must request such a deferment in a letter to the Assistant Dean for Administrative Services; the student must then schedule an appointment with the Assistant Dean to discuss the request.)
  4. Next, you will be sent an award letter offering you the grants, loans and/or work study for which you are eligible. At this time, the award offer will be based on the cost of full-time enrollment at UW-Sheboygan, even if your intention is to enroll on a part-time basis (adjustments will be made at a later date). You will either accept or decline the aid offered and submit a signed copy of the award letter to the Student Affairs Office.

If you accept an offer for a loan, you must make an appointment with Mary Balde in the Student Affairs Office. Also, completion of a Master Promissory Note and entrance loan counseling are necessary steps in the loan process. Both of these steps can be completed online at

Once on the Web site, click on the following:

  • Select Financial Aid
  • Online Stafford Loan Master Promissory Note
  • UW-Sheboygan Online Application

Complete and submit the application.

Next, finish the loan process by clicking on Online Loan Entrance Counseling.

Finally, on the sixth day of classes, UW Colleges disburses your financial aid on the basis of the number of credits for which you are registered. Federal grant money for which you qualify is credited automatically to your student account. Any remaining funds will be issued to you as a check.

If financial aid does not cover the entire amount of your tuition, the remaining balance will be due by no later than 4:00 p.m. on the 10th day of classes. If you applied late or, if for some other reason, the financial aid process is not complete prior to the 10th day, you must make arrangements with the Business Services Office for either a tuition deferment (possible only if your aid package is nearing completion) or for participation in the partial payment plan. See details at [link to B.O. pages]. Students need to complete payment or set up special arrangements by the deadline or they will be administratively withdrawn from their classes.

*By federal regulation (except in very special circumstances) unmarried students under the age of 24 must also provide information from their parents’ federal tax forms, even when the student does not reside with his/her parents.