Professional Education and Career Blog

Study Habits for the Non-Traditional Adult Learner That Lead to Success

study3The non-traditional student often find themselves with a time crunch that traditional young students straight out of high school don’t have. When studying competes with everything else going on in your day-to-day life, it can be extremely challenging to not only find the time to study, but bring the focus needed for effective studying. Good time management skills are crucial to succeeding as a student. Studying isn’t about cramming or studying longer, it’s about studying smarter and making the best use of your limited time.

Tips on Effective Studying

  • Create a Special Study Space. Making the most of your time to study means not wasting time getting your materials together and finding things. When it’s time to study, you want to be able to just sit down and get right to it. Equip your study space with what you need and put in a place where it makes the most sense for your working style. Do you prefer peace and quiet, or do you need some background noise? If living space is an issue, create some sort of portable space by putting together some zipper-notebooks with your materials all in one place, complete with pens, pads and other necessities. Consider even getting a portable lap-desk that you can pull out when you need it.
  • Vary Your Environment. Research has shown that memory is enhanced when the study environment is changed up from time-to-time. If you find yourself procrastinating and your mind wandering, consider changing to a new spot. The library, a café, the park, or even on your front porch can be places to give your brain a reset.
  • Time Management is of Top Importance. You know those people who always seem to get effortless top grades? Chances are, they naturally understood time management and making the most of their time. Effective time management can mean the different between poor grades and top success. Plan regular periods in your schedule devoted to studying, and stick to them. See also How to Defeat Procrastination.
  • Forgive Yourself for Time Failures. Everyone goes through periods of time where they “just don’t have it.” Don’t get angry with yourself and just blow everything off. Take a break if you need it and take a walk. Clear your head and figure out a time you can reschedule your work, even if you need to stay up a little later. Forgive yourself, take the time, but commit to finishing what needs to get finished.
  • Try and Do Something Every Day. Success at anything is nearly always about developing good habits, and studying is no exception. Try and do something every day, even if it’s for a short time. Accomplishing something even on your worst days establishes school as important in your mind.
  • Do the Most Important and/or Difficult Assignments First. One of the things about being an adult learner is the unpredictability of life. Often young traditional students have the attitude that they can always pull an all-nighter, but the adult learner is wise to plan for disaster. If the pipes in the house burst the day before that big paper is due, you will be very glad you got it done early and didn’t wait for the last minute.
  • studytimeVisualize Your Outcome to Stay Motivated. Often young students go to college because it’s the next thing on the list to do in life. Generally adult students have much more concrete goals about why they’re putting themselves through all the work and expense of education. Focus on your internal dialogue of the reasons you’re doing it, and take time to imagine the changes in your life that could come because of it. If you have it your mind why you’re doing it, it will help you to pull out those books and put in the work.
  • Don’t Let Fear Overwhelm You. Obviously many young people also have fears, but it’s not quite like the fear that an adult has, who has already seen many failures in their life and in the people around them. They know all too well that things can go wrong, and sometimes old ghosts come back to haunt their thoughts. You can’t always control your feelings, but you can control your actions. Give yourself permission to feel fear, but do it anyway. Continuous improvement is the secret to all success, and no successful person dodges failure forever. But the people who come out the other side are the people who keep fighting on without giving up.