Making the Most of Your Education


Part III: Making the Most of Your Education
by N. Menendez, Meaghan Lally, Sonia Montenegro, and Melissa Rebullosa

“Education is the movement from darkness to light.” – Allan Bloom

Going back to school as an adult can be very daunting, especially when you’re last math class was 15+ years ago.  Talk to your professors, tell them your situation, a lot of times they are very helpful, can suggest ways for you to approach the class or even give you extra study materials.  If nothing else, your professor knows who you are and can never hurt!  Be realistic about your workload and your regular daily schedule. Aim to take one class a quarter that you are honestly interested in. Often people focus so much on trying to hit every requirement, they get burned out on material that doesn’t pique their interest. If you try to mix in classes that are new and interesting, you will feel more inclined to work hard and do well.

Tips to help adult learners have a successful college/ university experience:

Be Honest About Discomfort

Going back to school can be intimidating for mature college students, especially if everyone seems younger and smarter. Allow for feelings of fear, anxiety, or awkwardness. More importantly, adult learners should talk about their discomfort with others. Not only does verbalizing anxieties make them seem less scary, it also encourages others to share their fears. Simply hearing that others have or had the same fears and learning how they dealt with their academic obstacles, can help mature college students cope with their new job.

Get Real

When mature college students go back to school, they must build time in for regular homework sessions (no cramming!), family, work, chores, and your own needs. Make a realistic study goals and make sure you keep them up! If their kids are in school, adult students can do homework when the kids do theirs. Try making your daily homework sessions and fun family activity, that way you are able to have quality time with your family while you’re completing schoolwork. Adult learners should expect to revise their study schedules as needed, depending on assignments, work life, family life, and health. New schedules may have kinks in the beginning, but if adult learners persevere through the initial stages and revise as needed, they’ll be more likely to be successful. Study schedules are an important habit of effective adult learners.

Feng Shui

For academic success, a mature college student’s study space at home doesn’t have to be huge or elaborate, but it does have to be quiet. Create a helpful and positive working environment. When carving out a study area, make sure it’s well-lit, comfortable, and well-ventilated. A desk or table is necessary, and perhaps a bulletin board for upcoming due dates, motivational quotations, etc. Adult learners need to be equipped with the proper school supplies. They also need a computer with a good internet connection and a printer.

Find Pockets of Time

Going back to school involves finding time to read course material on the commute, during a lunch break at work, or in other spare minutes. Keep notes, assignments, or even your textbook handy at all times for review while waiting at the doctor’s office or bank. Adult learners can improve academic success by plucking five or ten minutes from the daily routine, which can add up to an hour or more. Plus, one of the most effective ways to study is to review for short bursts of time, and take regular breaks. Making the course material a part of daily life is a success tip for adult learners that could improve memory and boost grades!

Learn How to Prepare For and Take an Exam

Knowing how to study for and take a test can be as important as knowing the material. Adult students should use the school’s resources, and learn about effective test-taking strategies (read over the whole exam before answering any questions, answer the easy questions first, understand the questions, watch the clock so don’t run out of time, etc). Don’t be afraid to approach the instructor if there is confusion about the material or extra information is needed. The teacher’s job is to help college students learn and succeed.

Line Up Your Cheering Squad

Make time for on-campus groups of people. Initiate conversations with people who went back to school and successfully balanced their work, family, and social lives. If the school’s admissions advisor or career counselor was helpful and friendly, a success tip for adult learners is to stay connected with them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Applications!

Don’t be overwhelmed by the cost of your new education. Seeing those quarterly tuition statements can be scary and sometimes you don’t know how you’re going to swing the rising costs. But, don’t be worried because there are countless scholarships and grants out there waiting to give hard working students money! First, apply for the FAFSA yearly. Even if you haven’t qualified in the past, laws change yearly and you may get small amounts from the government. It is important to remember that every little penny helps.  Apply for as many scholarships as you qualify for and try looking into programs and grants aimed at adult learners. SNL staff and online resources are excellent resources for students looking to help offset the cost of college.

Previously: The Great Time Bandit

Up next: Work Hard For Your Money


2 Responses to “Making the Most of Your Education”

  1. Work Hard For Your Money « Connections Says:

    […] Previously: Making the Most of Your Education […]

  2. That’s a Wrap! « Connections Says:

    […] Making the Most of Your Education […]

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