Many adults who return to study after a break or perhaps enrol on a course for the first time since they left school, find adjusting to study a difficult transition. That is not surprising but there are some simple steps you can take manage some of the trickier aspects of that transition so it doesnt have a negative impact on both studies and other commitments.
As the word implies transition is a change and it can take time to adjust to a change, the following suggestions will help you to make that change as easily and simply as possible giving you the best possible chance for success in your studies.
Identify Time for Study
Whatever course or programme you are studying it nearly always means some study outside of official ‘class’ times. So right from the start identify some times when you can do this. It is very easy to think that you will somehow fit it in but unless you make time to do it and plan some study sessions it is not likely to happen. So, as soon as you start your course, take a look at your diary and pencil some times that will become study times, the amount of time you allocate may need to be adjusted but at least you will have some slots pencilled in.
Find a place for Study
It is amazing how within weeks, even if you are studying an online course you will find you accumulate things, books, papers, pens, and files for example and often that is only the start. Having a place to keep them is vital and it will certainly make it easier to use your study slots effectively if you don’t have to race around your house, flat or room finding all your essential items.
Be Clear About Your Priorities
Each one of us identifies the things that are most important to us in our lives and usually we make it a priority to fit those in. If you are now embarking on a period of study then these may need to be adjusted slightly. Of course it is important to make time for the things and people that are important to you but presumably study has now been added to that list of important things so it might be time to re-visit those priorities.
Manage people’s expectations
The simple fact is that some of the time you will now be using for study, unless you are studying full time, will be time when you used to do other things and some of those other things may need to disappear for a while or be somehow rescheduled to allow you time to study. It’s often best to tell people about your study plans and what that might mean, perhaps not able to stay at work as late, be in the sport club, or as involved in charity work or whatever it happens to be for you in your own circumstances. Managing the expectations of others can mean you don’t need to explain all the time why you can’t always do all the things you did before.
Ask for help when you need it
Whether it is with your academic work or with your other responsibilities it is important to ask for help when you need it. Not doing so almost always leads to problems getting worse and small problems getting bigger and causing you worry and stress. But many people find it hard to ask for help because they somehow think that is a weakness. It is simple, we are all human if you are starting something new then there are bound to be times when you need help. So talk to your tutor if you need help with your studies or to your partner, family, or flatmates if the help you need is domestic and if it is work then talk to you manager or colleagues.
Identify your support network
Quite apart from, and often in addition to, practical help we all need emotional support. Somewhere we can have a grumble, share our success or generally let off a bit of steam with people we know and trust. So having a support network is vital, this may change over time if you are meeting a lot of new people but make sure you never find yourself without a solid support network.
Be prepared to learn about yourself
We all have ideas about how we approach tasks, the way we learn perhaps even the things we find easy and the things we find a struggle. But many people who return to study discover that they may have changed since they last studied, or they do change while they are studying. In many ways that is one of the points of education. So be prepared to have old ideas and attitudes challenged and to learn new things about yourself.
Get the right mind-set
Some people leave study or decide not to continue because they think it is something they can’t do well or because of particular circumstances at the time. But others may not study because they have an idea that they can’t do it or that they will find it tough. I have even heard students say that they don’t think they are the’ academic’ type. Be clear from the outset that if you have been accepted onto the course you are likely tobe able to be successful, It doesn’t mean you won’t need help at times or that you won’t need to develop some new skills but have confidence in your ability to learn, change and develop.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
New experiences are learning curves and it’s not too surprising that some aspects will be a challenge. Don’t waste time, effort or emotional energy beating yourself up because you make a few mistakes along the way or take a bit longer to get used to the demands of study than you thought you would.
Like many others I returned to study as an adult to complete a degree, part of the way through my studies I had my first child and I had a job I loved as well. But I completed my degree, had a lovely bouncing baby and kept working. It might seem daunting at times but it is possible and you will reap the rewards. Making a few adjustments at the beginning can certainly help you, not just settle into a life that involves study, but enjoy it as well.
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