Tips for returning to study as an adult

Learning is a lifelong process, and there’s no reason to stop studying just because you’ve reached a certain age. For many adults, returning to study is an important and necessary step towards a better job or career advancement. Even though it might seem like a major, rather daunting step, it’s often a worthy investment, with returns that are well worth the time, effort and money spent in the first place. Here are some tips for those of you who might be considering a return to study:

1. Do your research

Deciding whether or not to return to study is the first decision that you’ll need to make. The second decision? What to learn. The third decision? Where to learn. For this, the internet truly will be your best friend as you explore your options, but also make the effort to speak to people with experience in returning to study. You may also like to speak to people currently in the industry you are considering studying and working in. When speaking to these people, you might like to ask questions about course options, the time they spent studying each week, and the job opportunities available to them following the completion of their studies.

Find out if an industry is right for you by speaking to people who are already working in the field, and visit organisations such as Learn Local organisations, which offers a wide range of education and training programs designed to meet adult learning needs. You might also like to visit the Victorian Skills Gateway, an online one-stop-shop for vocational training in Victoria. This website enables people to easily navigate the extensive vocational training options available across Victoria, searching by occupation, course, study area or training provider. You might also like to read one of our recent blogs posts for tips on getting back into learning: http://learnlocal.org.au/7-easy-ways-to-get-back-into-learning/

2. Explore the possibility of taking online courses

There are many online courses perfect for adults looking to gain new or additional qualifications. These are great because they offer students the flexibility of studying at their own pace so they can work at the same time, but for those who have never tried online classes before, it can also seem a little challenging.

If you don’t think you’ll be able to learn effectively without being in a classroom, don’t be too quick to dismiss this option – try signing up for some online short courses so you can get firsthand experience of what it will be like. You might surprise yourself and find that you’re quite suited to it after all.

3. Establish a new routine

Setting a new routine and prioritising your existing commitments (and/or possibly saying ‘goodbye’ to responsibilities you no longer have time for) will be key to a successful return to study.

4. Don’t forget study-life balance

Remember the saying, all work and no play…? While it’s important to be committed to your studies, forgetting to relax and take care of yourself could really harm your progress. Don’t burn out – make sure to schedule in sufficient downtime for exercise, rest, and “Netflix and chill” nights.

5. Be adaptable

Even the best-laid plans don’t always work out. Your success in returning to study will be partly determined by your ability to adapt to change and be flexible. Accept that at times you have to shuffle things around or readjust your scheduling and routines. In fact, it might be a good idea to assess how you feel about your workload and circumstances every week or month, depending on your course.

All these tips aside, here’s something to always keep in mind: if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. There is more support out there for you than you think, and we don’t just mean in terms of your books.

Get your family and close friends to help out with chores, errands and occasional babysitting (if you have children). Reach out to fellow students, teaching staff or other people that might be able to help you if you have questions or a particularly tough assignment. Wherever you choose to study, there should also be a student services department, so don’t forget to seek assistance if you need help with something.

To find out what courses are on offer in your local area, and how you can get back into learning, contact a Learn Local organisation. You can find your local one at www.learnlocal.org.au/find-a-learnlocal

References

7 Tips to Help Adult Learners Go Back to School

Adults in College: 10 Secrets to Success if You Haven’t Seen a Classroom in Years