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7 Tips For Being A Successful Adult Student

May 24, 2018

There are many reasons to return to school and certainly a lot of things to consider if you’re thinking of taking that very big step – but how ready are you to be a student again?

Think back to the last time you were actively a student. It’s likely you’ve been through quite a lot since then and probably accomplished a great deal of things. But if you think just because you’re a professional now that you can head to university and come out with a degree without breaking a sweat, you’re in for a rude awakening. Being a student means putting a lot of work, maybe even more work than you’re doing now. And that is even more the case for adult students who need to balance all that with their many other responsibilities. If you’re not prepared for the demands of returning to school then it could end up being a big waste of your time and money. So before walking into the classroom again, get back into the student mode and earn your education.

Always be prepared.

As mentioned above, going back to school as an adult usually means balancing school with a whole lot of other things like work and your personal life. However, if you’re going to commit to this, then you need to carve out time just for school. Whether you’re going to class or taking online courses, when you’re in school then be there 100 percent. Don’t try multitasking, just listen to the lectures, take notes and do the work. There is no sense in going through all of this if you’re not going to give it the time it needs.

Embrace how studying has changed.

For most of us, things have changed significantly since we were students. While that can be a little intimidating, it also means that there are so many more resources available to students than ever before. Yes, you made it through school using the tried-and-true study method of handwritten notes and sticking to the reading list, but introducing yourself to some of the other tools at hand can make things a lot easier. Students today use laptops and tablets for note-taking, they watch online lectures and dive deeper into topics with internet resources of all kinds. Take advantage of the way things have changed and don’t limit yourself to only the things you’re comfortable with.

Learn good time management.

This is probably the biggest key for adult students to figure out. Time will be in very short supply once you start in on your classes. The work will pile up and it’s unlikely the rest of your life will patiently wait until the semester is over. You’ll have to add time management to your list of skills and really work to give everything it’s due time in your schedule. That might mean making sacrifices and it might mean reevaluating some of your current commitments. Set your study routine and stick with it. Don’t let excuses like being too busy come in the way of your education.

Make connections.

The classroom is a community and embracing that community helps to strengthen your learning. It might feel a little awkward being older than a lot of your other classmates, but getting over that self-conscious reaction and connect with other students. It can prove to be a big help managing the work. Join study groups, connect on the appropriate social media platforms and strike up conversations when you can. Even if you’re taking online courses, there are often forums to discuss the class materials with fellow students. It can be a great resource if there are areas you’re having trouble with, it can help you realize things you hadn’t considered, and it does enrich the education experience.

Avoid procrastination.

Procrastination is one of the biggest hurdles for many students. You likely can recall numerous times from your university days when you should have been studying or writing a paper but found any and every excuse to put your work on hold. It can be a real issue and don’t be sure that you’re over it now just because you’re older. But the very best way to beat procrastination is by being prepared. We procrastinate when we don’t know what to do next. Avoid that by doing the readings, doing the research and knowing the material. If you do all this it helps keep your mind focused on the work rather than searching for answers and wandering off track.

Learn from setbacks.

It doesn’t feel good to put the work into a test or a paper and get back a grade that is far below what you wanted. It can be a pretty big blow to the ego and can make you even more intimidated by the work. But as with any setback, it’s a big learning opportunity. Talk with you professor, identify where you went wrong and go forward with more confidence in your next attempt.

Take it seriously.

Again, this is a big undertaking and if you aren’t going to approach it with the necessary respect, then don’t bother doing it at all. You might feel the need to brush it off as inconsequential as a way of dealing with self-consciousness, but decide if this is something you really want and if it is, take it as seriously as you do your work. You’ll be pushed and you’ll be challenged but in the end it will make the accomplishment feel all the better.


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