Summer break is here, but for some of you, the learning continues. At various times in our lives we may return to school for different reasons. Over the last few years, there have been many discussions about the adult learner and what they need to be successful. I have been privileged to work with students who for various reasons have taken a break from school for many years, and now ready to obtain their degree. The reason why I say that I have been privileged to work with returning students is because of the wealth of knowledge they bring to the table from life experiences, both personal and professional.
The idea of returning to school after taking a break might be daunting, but whatever you do, don’t let that thought stop you. The paperwork, deciding on a degree plan, finding the right fit for method of learning, enrolling in the ‘right’ classes, and finding time in your already busy schedule to complete school work almost seems impossible to achieve, but I am here to tell you, you can do it. Here are a few tips if you find yourself in this position:
- Student Support Services. Take advantage of student support services, they will help you manage the paperwork.
- Student Advisors. Keep in touch with your student advisor. Most of the time they are your first point of contact for all issues concerning enrollment and picking the right classes.
- Method of Learning. Thinking about what method of learning will be right for you? Assess yourself, your time commitments, family and professional obligations, and choose the right method of learning for you. Do you prefer an online class because of time constraints? Be prepared to work hard and create a schedule. Do you prefer a face-t0-face class? Find one that fits in your schedule.
- Schedule. My advise to you even before classes starts, is to set a schedule for yourself. What days and times work best for you? What environment is conducive to learning for you? Do you prefer to study at home or at the library? Try and map out a game plan for studying as best as you can. Another tip: always have a backup plan.
- Ask for Help. Anytime something doesn’t make sense, don’t wait till it’s too late. Need clarification on an assignment? Ask your instructor. Have an administrative question? Ask your advisor or any staff member in student support services. Need help understanding a concept? Walk into the tutoring center or utilize the tutoring center online.
- Engage. If you are taking classes face-to-face, be sure to participate in class and try to find a study partner. If you are taking classes online, interact with your fellow classmates, especially during the first week of class when everyone introduces themselves. You never know what you may have in common with someone else.
- Math Requirements. Thinking about taking that math class at the end of your degree plan? Don’t! Take it as soon as possible. Take advantage of tutoring services, your instructor, and other resources provided by the university.
- Accomplishments. Take a step back and think about your accomplishments, the work you had to put in to get where you are. Apply the same perseverance, and you will be surprised at what you are capable of achieving.
Best of all, take one step at a time, success is the only reward when you don’t give up.