Life Hacks from a Non-Traditional Dietetics Student

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I was petrified to go back to college! I graduated the first time, more than 20 years ago, with no additional responsibilities. Enrolling full-time in a dietetics program, I worried about balancing schoolwork and family. Now, as a senior, I’d like to share tips that kept me sane, healthy and successfulLife Hacks from a Non-Traditional Dietetics Student -

Back to Basics

Dietetics students know how to live healthy lives. Use that knowledge and eat well. I’d cook batches of legumes and whole grains with an electric pressure cooker then toss them together with fresh veggies for nutritious meals.

Exercise, especially when you don’t think you have the time. Preparing for an organic chemistry exam, I hit a wall studying, so I drove to the gym, worked up a sweat and chatted with friends. The stress melted away and my brain was ready to go back to the books. The break and exercise reinvigorated my brain.

Use Technology

The first time around, I found references on microfiche and composed papers on a word processor. Times have changed!  Now I rely on YouTube, audiobook software and a text-to-speech app. I can’t count the number of lectures I have watched on YouTube. The audiobook software got me through anatomy with a review series that covered “tough topics.” And I studied vocabulary and articles with the text-to-speech app. My commute to school is nearly an hour, and technology has helped me make every minute count.

Ask for Help

I was used to doing everything for my family, and I had to get used to asking for help. I realized it was OK to ask someone to toss the laundry into the dryer or make dinner while I drove home from class. The best help was having my oldest daughter, a college English major, proofread my writing assignments.


My life has been full of dramatic changes. I’m grateful for the people who have helped me succeed, the friends I’ve made, and for the chance to make my dreams come true. I still call my mom when I score an A on an exam, and I’m 46 years old! I never miss an opportunity to celebrate — it keeps me motivated.

Jen Messer on Linkedin
Jen Messer
Jen Messer is a senior in the DPD program at Keene State College, NH, and is the student liaison for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has a passion for motherhood, fitness and nutrition. Connect with her on LinkedIn.