How to cope with studying as an adult

Balancing the various priorities that fill your day is one of the greatest differences between studying as an adult and studying when you have just finished school. Students who have just finished school often only have their studies to focus on, whereas adults with full time work commitments and/or a family to take care of have more on their plates. While this is not to say that all new students having finished school do not have these priorities - more and more do these days - they also seem to have more support from the family unit. Adult students need to start their degrees with clear strategies to succeed.

Here are a few tips:
1. Make a time and a place that you can dedicate to your studies. This should allow you to work without interruption. Having your family understand and respect these boundaries is very important and critical to you doing well. If you have defined time to work, you can spend time freely with them once you are done.

2. Find balance between the various aspects of your life. The best way to do this is to not fill too many hours with unnecessary work. Work or studying can easily expand to fill any amount of time you allow, and so you have to manage this so that you have enough time to work, study, relax, and do all the other things that are important to you, all the while remembering that time on task is important to your successful future.

3. If you do not understand, you should ask questions.Don’t be shy! As lecturers, we appreciate questions and enquiring minds. Understanding something now may mean the difference between passing or failing in future, so ask questions sooner rather than later.

4. Form a small study group with others.There is nothing more motivating than being on the same path as others. Everyone has different skill sets and abilities, and members of your study group will help you gain a new perspective on your work.

5. Find a mentor that you can learn good habits from and whose input you value. It takes a lot of courage to find a good mentor, but this relationship will benefit you in years to come. The key is to find someone who is in a place in life that you admire, either from a personal or professional perspective.

6. Don’t fall behind with your studies and make sure you keep up to date. Take time to check your notes are updated and in order and make sense. The best way to do this is to use some time after lessons each day to go over that day’s work to be sure you have the work well summarised and in a form, that you can revise from at a later stage. Another impactful way to check your understanding of a topic is to find a friend in the class that needs help, and help them. You cannot explain the work if you don't understand it. If you are not brave enough to do this, then draw a face on an orange or an apple and explain the work to the fruit!

Starting and completing a degree as an adult student is not as overwhelming as it may appear at first. However, as the tips above illustrate, the key is to break it down into small, manageable steps. By putting positive, constructive habits in place and surrounding yourself with a support system, you will not only obtain your degree, but enjoy the process of learning and growing.

Monash South Africa offers selected law and business undergraduate degree classes on weekends; as well as a variety of postgraduate diplomas and our popular MBA and MIB degrees, providing valuable skills to directly benefit your career. Enjoy our convenient, flexible and affordable Saturday classes, the benefits of blended learning and personalised attention.

By Wendy Baumgartner, Foundation Programme, Monash South Africa

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