Returning to academic study after an extended period of time can be difficult as well as a challenging task for anyone to undertake. Many individuals, at some point in their lives, temporarily set aside their academic pursuits to immerse themselves in the professional world, striving to secure a livelihood for themselves and their families. Consequently, those who decide to return to college or university for further education, whether to enhance their employability by acquiring new skills or for other reasons, often grapple with uncertainty about the path ahead. In light of this, we have put together some relevant information in this article to help you succeed in resuming your education after a long gap.
1. Be confident about yourself and count on the experience you earned while being away from studies:
Students who are mature aged are likely to perform well at tertiary levels of study programs. Although you have been away from the academic study for quite some time, the life or perhaps work experience that you have got in your repertoire can help you enormously in setting up your approach towards resuming the academic study and consequently, increasing your chances of success. Mature and adult students who return to study after a long break usually tend to put in a great deal of efforts and hence, can reap the successful results.
You should consider what have you been doing while you were away from the world of academia? If you had to stay away from university or college due to such reasons as raising a family or perhaps engaged with practical work to earn your family a decent living then please do not underestimate these important things of your life. Ask yourself if you were able to do some study on your own so as to prepare yourself for a study program? How about traveling? While you were away from the academic world, did you get a chance to experience an entirely different culture or learn a new language perhaps? Before embarking on your journey to make a start in your academic studies after the resumption, you must take a chance to look at all the valuable experiences that you had learned while being away from academic world. All of these small things, albeit may sound trivial things to you, but collectively these things have helped you in developing a new skillset in you which the other students of your new class may not have. It is therefore you pull yourself together and be confident that you have not squandered your time while being away from academic study.
You must bear in mind that college or university education is something that prepares you for the work industry. But if you are going to attend a college or university after earning some practical skills from the work industry, these will be beneficial for your succeeding academic study. Degree programs or short-term certification programs aim to develop a cohort of professionals with various types of background in order to ensure that students would gain an awful lot of benefits through indirect interaction with their peers. You must not make an apology for your past, nor do you need to make any excuses for the choices that you made in the past; for instance, if your financial circumstances were beyond your control and they made a direct affect on your life compelling you to begin a job to save some money for further education. Even if you are coming back to university education after leaving a job, the experience in your portfolio is likely to contribute enormously during class discussions.
2. Making appropriate adjustments in your time for study:
For mature aged students, it is quite a common phenomenon to get worried as how they are going to cope with class assignments, formative and summative exams and various other things. The only thing lurking at the back of their minds is how to make appropriate and workable adjustments in their current time schedule. Some of the following tips can prove to be quite useful:
- Organise a manageable study schedule: It is highly advisable to make a timetable for an entire week, especially paying more heed on the time that would be available to you for study while being away from the class
- Develop due date for submissions: Create a due date for formative or summative submissions and cross them off when you are done with them.
- Breakdown large tasks into small sub-tasks: If an academic task is quite overwhelming for you then you should try to break it down into small components. There is plenty of truth in the cliché, “Slow And Steady Wins The Race”.
- Try to discover your style of learning: Doing so will help you enormously in efficiently studying. For example, if you believe that you tend to learn best by reading then perhaps you can read your study text aloud or perhaps you can insert some pictures or diagrams in your study text to help you remember the text.
- Give yourself some kind of a reward when you achieve something: For example, receiving an exceptional feedback from your class tutor or a short break upon completion of non-stop 2 hours’ study.
- Sustaining your motivation: Oftentimes it can be hard for you to manage when too many academic assignments are due for submission and you’re already late in your submission. This turns into a conundrum in your mind and hence, can potentially make you upset. It’s the right time to talk to your academic coordinators or study counsellors at your college or university or get a boost.
3. Ensure to have a nice balance between work and life:
For mature-aged students, it is important to find a right balance between work and life in order to make sure that no elements of their lives suffer. To achieve this right balance, you can give yourself some small breaks whilst studying to ensure that you do not procrastinate much during your study time. Do not make the mistake of occupying yourself with too much workload. Once your brain reaches its saturation point, you are likely to receive signals from your brain such as tiredness of brain activities. At this specific state, you should not dump more information or data into your brain, otherwise you are likely to suffer the state of burnout. It is essentially important to take adequate sleep and relaxation. It’s been medically proven that if you are having a relaxed mind and have been taking enough sleep, you are likely to experience a mode of efficient study, bound to remember more information and likely to be less stressed, especially if you are encountering any urgent deadlines.
To achieve a good balance between work and life, it is essentially important that you manage your time very well with others in your life. For example, if you are facing some pressing deadlines in your study schedule, you may find yourself in a bit of grumpy mood and the consequently, you relationship with your life partner, children, parents, friends and other people is likely to suffer. If you encounter such a problem, it is highly advisable to speak to a student counsellor at your college or university and seek the help that you deserve.
4. Set for yourself well-defined goals
For mature students returning to study programs after a long gap are highly advised to craft for themselves realistic and achievable goals. Caution should be exercised whilst setting up goals for yourself; for example, ensure the goals that have been set by yourself are well-aligned with the time that you are spending in your academic institution. Moreover, you should also ensure that you choose a program in your academic study that is most relevant to your professional goals. If you are unsure as what to do then it’s probably the time to talk to your instructors or career advisors in order to ensure that you choose the correct options for yourself that will help you succeed in your professional life. As you begin researching your own goals, opportunities are likely to surface and you are bound to find yourself something that you will be passionate about. Once you have set up your goals, then it’s the time to ponder about what else is important for you besides your educational goals. Ideally, you should set goals for your health and fitness, goals for your family and social life, along with personal goals. You should write down your goals on a piece of paper and paste it somewhere in your room ensuring that you see your goals every day. More importantly, you must be flexible in your approach whilst setting up the goals. For instance, if the goal that you have set for yourself isn’t working out for you, do not be scared to change it. After all, it’s your goal and you can modify it in accordance with your circumstances and the environment surrounding that goal.