Studying Again: What Adults Can Do to Adjust to Academic Life

Deciding to go back to school is one thing, but doing the actual schoolwork is another. That’s what most adults feel when they have to take a postgraduate degree online or in traditional classrooms on weekends to advance their careers. After working for years, re-adjusting to academic life can be difficult.

Luckily, we have some tips here to help make your going-back-to-school experience easy and positive.

Remember your learning style

People process, store, and recall information in different ways. Don’t panic if you can’t remember all the details and lessons thrown at you in your first online class. Think about your learning style when you were in high school or college. Or remember how you process a lot of information at work. Do you write things out in your notebook? Is your memory call better when you record meetings on your phone?

Learn more about different learning styles—you could be a visual or auditory learner. It’s important that you identify your learning style so that you can specify memory retention techniques that work best for you.

working on laptop

Do schoolwork like it’s your job

Writing a thousand-word essay or creating a 50-slide presentation isn’t an easy endeavor. But if you approach it like it’s a professional task, you might find it easier and faster to complete. Think about how you usually carry out office tasks—you probably set a goal, deadline, and a plan of action. A client won’t barrage you if you fail to meet a deadline or submit subpar work, but your degree is at stake this time.

Don’t procrastinate

Online certification or post-grad courses often let students complete requirements at their own pace. But this doesn’t mean you can procrastinate all the time. It’s easier to fall into the rabbit hole on YouTube or go on Netflix marathons on weekends rather than work on your courses, so it’s vital to create a routine.

List course milestones and deadlines for projects. Break down big tasks into smaller activities. Then, use the calendar on your phone to remind yourself about the tasks you need to finish before the deadline. It’s also good to connect with another adult student and treat each other as accountability partners.

Use your resources

Being an adult re-entering the academic environment comes with an advantage. You now have more life experiences, a wider network, and access to different learning resources like webinars and paywalled articles. So, make good use of this advantage, especially when you face challenges in your courses. Perhaps, your colleague knows someone who can give you access to that rare research papers in another state university. Or you can spend a small part of your income to buy apps that offer tons of audiobooks.

Above all, take it seriously. Although it’s unlikely that you made this choice lightly, it can be hard to keep up that sense of purpose once you’re drowned in tons of readings, assignments, and research papers. Whenever you feel demotivated, revisit the reasons you decided to advance your education and career.

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