Adult students who have been out of school for a few years usually do very well when returning to school, however you do have a different set of challenges to face. Here are some pointers.
● Dedicate regular blocks of time throughout the week to studying. Mark these times on a calendar and stick to them. If you have family or significant others try to involve them in the scheduling process. Designate regular blocks of time with family, too.
● Discuss the changes that could occur as a result of going to school. Help your children understand what you are doing, why you are doing it and how long the changes will last.
● Prepare family members well in advance when you have exams or major projects.
● Let significant others in your life know that you appreciate their support.
● Attend Student Success seminars for tips on studying more effectively and efficiently. Try techniques from the Strategies for Success study skills manual available free at www.nait.ca/counselling
Create a study area
● Ideally, you should have a separate space that is dedicated only to studying. Psychologically, this space will signal you to study whenever you are in it. Practically, you can have everything you need set up and ready.
● Evaluate your study area to see what you can do to improve it.
● Evaluate studying at home. For some, there may be too many distractions.
Maintain balance and harmony
● When you get too busy you may neglect the most important person in your life – you! Be sure to schedule at least one or two times per week to do something that refreshes or renews you (exercising, meditating, walking, journalling, getting together with friends).
● Be aware of low energy, low morale times and evaluate what you need to change. Do you need to eat more often, eat more healthily, take a break, talk to a friend, laugh, lighten your course load …
● Set limits. Learn to say “No.” Delegate responsibilities.
● Stay positive. While you may feel you learn more slowly and have to work harder than younger students, you also have many skills the younger students lack, such as direction, organizational skills, a broader perspective, self-knowledge, maturity and less time spent partying!
Celebrate your successes
● Set small goals and reward yourself when you reach them.
Establish support systems
● You may be the only mature adult student in your class and feel like you just don’t connect with the 18-year-old lifestyle. Identify at least one person outside the school environment who can be your cheering squad.
● Try to connect with other adult stu-dents who can share your stresses and your successes.
● Get to know and enjoy the younger students.
Anticipate crises and be prepared
● Write down potential crises, especially if you are a parent, and develop a plan for each. What will you do if your child is sick and can’t go to daycare or school? What if you get sick or the car breaks down? Discuss options with your spouse, relatives, neighbours and friends. Have emergency contact numbers prepared.
● Get the name and phone number or e-mail of at least one student in each class to contact if you have to unavoidably miss a class or if you get stuck on an assignment.
Be here now
● When you are at school, focus on understanding the lecture or study material; if you are spending time with your children focus on them. Work on keeping out thoughts of what else you “should” be doing.
Find ways to de-stress
● Stress interferes with the brain’s ability to learn and remember. Build in some daily and weekly calming and fun activities – they don’t have to take long.
● A positive attitude helps with memory, learning and concentration. If you are feeling overwhelmed and doubting your abilities, ask yourself what needs to change.
● Make sure you are setting challenging but reasonable standards.
Don’t wait to get help
● If you are struggling academically, seek out instructors, classmates, free tutorial services or a hired tutor. Ask family and friends for help when you need it and don’t refuse help when they offer. See a counsellor at Student Counselling, Room W111-PB if you need sup-port or if you just need to talk. Book in person or by calling 780-378-6133.
– Margaret Marean