Going back to school after being away from the classroom for awhile may be frustrating at first. Don’t be scared of starting your education later on in life, or picking it up where you left off. Balancing priorities, your family, and the course material may be a challenge – so here are some helpful study tips that will help as you make the best of your study time.
- Set aside time to study. Get a planner where you can write down when you will be working, when your classes are, when you have tests or school activities, or any other events that may pop up. This will be helpful because you can determine certain times to dedicate to studying. If possible, try and study during the same time each day, so that you can force yourself to get into a routine of doing so. If you are an adult learner, it is important to make sure your friends and family know your schedule and respect that you need time to focus on school. You’ve decided to improve your life by going back to school so be sure to keep others in the loop on your progress and success, and they should be able to understand your need for uninterrupted study time. When studying it is better to have a series of shorter study sessions distributed over several days than to have fewer but longer sessions.
- Put it in your own words. There is a difference between memorizing and actually absorbing course material. Don’t just memorize the information and move on – you should be able to explain the main ideas and concepts of what you are studying in your own words. By putting the material in a context that you understand, you will have an easier time recalling it when you are taking a test or applying it in the real world.
- Don’t try to learn it all. Select a reasonable chunk of material to study. Make a list or outline of the material that is likely to be on the exam and prioritize these subjects based on how important they are and how much more you need to learn about them. Spend the majority of your time familiarizing yourself with the subjects you are less confident about, and do it at the beginning of your study session when you have more energy and are ready to dive in.
- Dress uncomfortably and sit at a desk. If you dress comfortably and try to study on a couch, you are apt to be interrupted more easily, be less focused, and therefore be less productive. You should sit upright at a desk and avoid dressing casually so that you can remain awake and attentive.
- Chew gum. An informal study done by a Cornell University marketing professor has shown that chewing gum offers improved memory and concentration which may improve your test-taking abilities. Chewing gum may also help relieve some of the stress of studying and taking tests, and help you stay awake.
- Seek support. Check with the other students in the class to get their perspectives on what important information will be on the exam. Suggest a group session where you share study guides and talk about the material out loud. Verbalizing the information is the key to storing the material in your long-term memory
Going back to school can be intimidating, especially if you are an adult learner. Don’t take on more than you can manage, and prepare yourself as much as possible!
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