by Tracey Topor
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – another school year has started! For nontraditional students, students aged 22 or older who are returning to school after a hiatus, this time can be nerve-wracking and intimidating.
Here are some tips on how to be a successful adult learner:
1. WRITE DOWN GOALS. Having a clearly defined objective will help you focus on your studies. Write your goals and tasks on a dry-erase board and post it somewhere you can see it daily. Break it out into long-term, medium-term, and short-term goals so that they are easier to tackle. For example:
2. APPLY FOR AID. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. Need-based federal financial aid programs such as Pell Grants and low-cost student loans do not have an age limit. Eligibility requirements for the FAFSA do not include age, so whenever you decide to continue your education, you may qualify for financial aid!
3. HAVE ACCESS TO A COMPUTER. Whether you’re earning an online degree or attending classes at a local community college, make sure you own a computer, or have access to one. You will need to research things on the Internet, take tests, watch presentations, participate in class forums, blog, type up assignments, or read class material online.
4. CREATE A CALENDER. As an adult learner, you may have other responsibilities like work or family members to take care of. Another visual cue that will help you stay on track is a schedule or calendar in which the hours you need to attend class and complete your assignments are highlighted as required time commitments. That way you will be able to fill in other family commitments and activities to better help you manage your time. Fill your family in on your education goals and your schedule. Arrange for someone to cover for you in case something comes up or gets in the way of you completing your assignments or getting to class.
5. REFRESH YOUR STUDY SKILLS. Prepare yourself for doing lots of reading, writing, and note-taking. Practice the best techniques for staying focused, remembering what you read, and prioritizing assignments, and you'll increase your learning efficiency. If you do not understand something, ask your professor for help, or another student in the class for clarification.
Want more information? Check out more study tips for adult learners.