Mature Students how to get Back into the Swing of Studying

Having recently completed a degree in IT after more than two decades since attending college, I confess that getting back into the swing of studying took some effort.  I couldn’t just say, “Oh, I will set aside this day or that day for studying and it will all fall into place as I go.”  This mentality was not going to do, considering I was entering a completely different career field with IT training, which I knew very little about outside of an end-user’s ability with computers. 

For me, I was fortunate that one of my first classes dealt specifically with learning study skills all over again, such as setting up a calendar for scheduling all my daily activities into hourly segments from 7am to 10pm.  At first, this schedule seemed like overkill.  It didn’t take long to realize the importance of this new schedule being one of the most effective tools in managing study time against all other activities.   I consider myself to be very organized, but without this schedule sticking to set study times became more difficult.  The lesson here is when I committed study time to writing, my conscience “nudged” me into compliance when I strayed from set times.   It is ok to make changes to study times, life happens. But, this type of schedule may be a saving grace to your educational success, it was for me.

Making physical shifts to allow time for studying is just one piece to returning to school.  The other piece is a mental shift.  Was I afraid to return to school?  Yes, especially knowing I was going to have to take math and science again.  This is the foundational skills seated at the base of my Associate of Applied Science in Computer Networking.  Go figure.  I struggled through Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry, not to mention the study of the law of physics, the first time in college and wasn’t expecting anything better this time. 

Fear of returning to school doesn’t have to paralyze you.  I friend of mine used to say F.E.A.R. is an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real.”  I feared that I would just skate by in math and science this time, or worst fail.  I was wrong, the real evidence was that once embracing this new study, I understood more than I thought.  I passed with B in both classes.  More importantly, I was reminded of how studying sciences and math exercises your mind, causing you to broaden your look at the world at large from a point of considering more than one solution to any problem, a skill well-suited to IT technicians.

Returning to school can be frightening.  You feel like failing will crush you and cause others to lose confidence in you, especially if you have been very successful without continued education.  You will need a support system.  The best case scenario is a mix of teachers, counselors, career advisor, classmates, co-workers, family, and friends.  Look not only for those who will be your cheering section, but those who will hold you accountable for your study.  Both types of these people play a vital role in your study success, listen to both types.  You will be tempted to procrastinate.  I did.  But, along with listening those who support you, listen to yourself and remember the reasons for why you are back in school, hold those reasons close and protect them from being negatively influenced by any outside force.   

I leave you with one last tool for success.  When you achieve educational success, you just might find yourself addicted to learning.  Maybe, you’ll be reminded of the favorite class you had in elementary and high school.  For me, one of my Database instructors reminded me of my drafting teacher in the eleventh grade who believed everyone carries the ability to expand their mind, it just finding ways to nurture that ability into growth.  With your support system, grab onto good memories of education from the past when you are stressed, they will lift you and keep you on course.