Going back to school as an adult can be both exciting and daunting. Unlike those earlier years, adulthood generally comes with more commitments, such as work and family, which compete for your time and energy. That being said, there are a number of strategies you can adopt to help you study more effectively as an adult.
- Go beyond the textbook
While you should do your assigned reading, don’t forget to tap into the internet’s rich resource pool for supplementary notes and material to help you understand the topic better. These days, many textbook publishers also offer companion websites for their textbooks that provide support, study notes and related references. All you have to do is look up the title of your textbook on your internet search engine.
- Set aside a regular block of time for studying
Schedule regular blocks of time for study that allow you to become immersed in the topic you are learning about. If the blocks of time are scheduled in advance, they are more likely to happen. If the time set aside is at least a few hours in duration, you are likely to delve deeper as well as increase your understanding of the topic. This can help to avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety in the lead up to a deadline.
- Establish an effective study routine
Show up for your classes, be prepared, take good notes and complete your assignments (where applicable) diligently. If you have any questions, ask for help. Figure out a study and note-taking method that works for you. All of these might sound trivial, but they will go a long way towards helping you study effectively.
- Use memory builders and other tools
Do whatever you can to make the material you are learning about personal and relatable. Rewrite what you’ve learned in your own words. Create your own flashcards. Make up your own acronyms, use mnemonics, you could even work key points into the lyrics of your favourite children’s song if you like! There are lots of tools out there for helping you to remember what you’ve studied – all you have to do is use them.
- All work and no play…
With so many commitments on your plate, it’s easy to fall into the habit of doing, doing, doing. But in order to study more effectively, you need to get adequate rest and maintain balance in your life. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; recognise that by taking time out for yourself and balancing all the other aspects of your life well, you are avoiding unnecessary stress and burn-out while maximising your brain’s ability to learn.
Choosing to go back to study as an adult is a big decision, and as most will discover, it’s often more a marathon than a sprint race. By putting the right study methods and tools in place and preparing yourself physically and mentally, you’re setting yourself up for long-term success.
If you would like to undertake further training or learning near where you live, the Learn Local network can help. Learn Local organisations offer adult learning courses in local communities across Victoria.