While most adults lead stressful lives without the extra burden of school, adult students face an extra challenge: Adult students get little of the fun of student life, yet experience all of the anxiety. Most adult students lead full lives with families, jobs, and household duties. Although going back to school can be a wonderful stepping stone to personal growth and success, it can add another layer of misery to an already full life.
The Key Difference
What is the difference between a well balanced, excited adult student and one who’s frazzled? In a word, organization. With a few simple tips, adult learners can learn to work around their busy lives, carving out a student life of fulfillment.
Although it would be obvious to focus on setting aside routine study time, keeping your schoolwork tidily placed in one spot, and marking your semester’s progress out on a calendar, the fact is that most adults will be so harried that these ideals at the beginning of the semester will quickly fade into the maelstrom of daily life.
Organizing Tip: What’s more important is to learn to use every minute to its optimal purpose, without letting stress compromise your emotions.
A few simple tips can be done to free up some time for studying:
Organizing Tip: Explain to others around you that you are taking on new burdens with school.
This way you won’t have to feel guilty when you turn down coworkers for that after-work socializing or disappoint your kids when your term paper takes priority over shopping for new sneakers.
Organizing Tip: Use spare moments to cram facts or read a few pages.
Use your coffee break, commute time, spare moments at your kid’s soccer game to fit in some studying. Bring along notecards with study material to glance at on the elevator at work or while waiting for a meeting to begin. Read your assignment between the batches of cookies baking in the oven at home. There are lots of spare moments to use for your studies.
Organizing Tip: Reduce expectations.
You’re the perfect parent. Not any longer, you’re a student now. You always make an elaborate dinner on Sunday. Not any longer, you’ve got an essay to write. Chances are, YOU are the person most likely to be the most critical of this new role that takes so much time away from family.
Organizing Tip: Skip the stuff you can.
So your house will be messier; the grass will get a little too long between mowing. Recognize that there will be compromises and sacrifices to ensure you get your school work done. It’s okay, you’re allowed. School, for now, is a higher priority on the to-do list.
Finally, don’t let the opportunity to improve your life through education become a psychological burden. Put yourself in someone else’s place. If your best friend was stressing she couldn’t make homemade birthday treats because she has an exam, what would you say? Don’t impose standards on yourself that you wouldn’t expect from others. Enjoy your education; like students of all ages, you are likely to find that it will be over with before you know it!