At Work

5 Ways Adult Learners Can Ease Back into the Swing of School

For adults looking to go to school or finish up some schooling that has been put on pause, it can be challenging to make that major adjustment back into the daily grind of hitting the books and studying. If you are feeling uneasy about the transition, consider the following tips to help ensure you have a successful school year.

There is no better way to feel confident on your first day of classes than to be fully prepared. This preparation entails quite a few aspects. For one, make sure you are taking the best courses that will put you on the path toward your ultimate goal. Looking to get a particular degree? Make sure you take classes that apply toward it. Want to sharpen a certain skill set? Look for courses that challenge your current knowledge of it. Once you have the best classes lined up for your situation, make sure you are actually ready for them. Do you need to do some refreshing on the topic beforehand? Have you gotten all of the required textbooks and supplies ahead of time? Do you know where your class is being held? Make sure you have all these crucial questions answered by the first day of class and you will have completed your first (and very important) step.

Visit your academic advisor
Your advisor is the ultimate resource, so be sure to use this connection to your advantage. He or she will be the perfect person to aid you in hopping back into your school journey. Your advisor can help you with any school-related questions, which you inevitably will have! Do not be afraid to express your concerns or thoughts about making the adjustment back into school, as you never know what resources your advisor could recommend to help you out — remember, you’re not the only adult going back to school and advisors have consulted on this before. Perhaps they could even put you in contact with other students who are in a similar situation as you.

Take it slow
In your first semester back, it may be wise to take only one or two courses to start, or perhaps it would be beneficial to take classes only online. The benefits of this slow, yet thoughtful approach is that you can ensure you are ready to fully immerse yourself back into school life before taking on too many commitments at once. If these few courses feel gruesome, just imagine what a full course load would be like. Plus, as an adult who may have busy work hours, you may find that it is better for your schedule to complete all of your schooling in this “one to two classes per semester” structure. If this isn’t a method that seems logical for you, you should by all means feel empowered to take that full course load the first semester. Just make sure you understand the time commitment associated with that.

Find a study buddy
School can be much easier to tackle if you have someone to study, do homework, and compare class notes with. Even if you don’t know a single person in your classes or even at your school, use the first few days of the semester to spark up conversation with those around you. It never hurts to have someone on your side who can help you in a bind. Again, your advisor could be a great resource to help you get connected with someone like this who may be in your shoes as well.

Have a plan
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the workload associated with classes? Make the transition back into school easier by designing a personal plan for how you are going to be successful. For example, if your English class lasts three months and in that time you will need to have read three books, written two papers, and taken weekly quizzes, you should come up with a weekly breakdown of how you can be on track to prepare for and complete all of these tasks. This will help make the class feel more manageable. Perhaps the best plan is to read a certain number of pages in each book per week and study for 30 minutes each day. Or perhaps you find it best to read all of the books within the first month of the class. However you choose to plan for the semester, be honest and give yourself realistic deadlines. Making a plan upfront is crucial for easing back into school because you can hold yourself accountable and stay on track all semester long.

The transition back to school can be challenging, but always keep in mind your end goals. It will make all of the hard work along the way worth it!
Jenny Modlisz is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.