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Study Tips for Adult Learners

I haven’t had to study for years. Do you have some tips for helping me be successful?

I always enjoy this question because adult learners tend to discount what they do each and every day when it comes to starting back to school. Most adult learners are working as well as balancing a family and all of the responsibilities that come with our busy lives! We are skilled at following a recipe, paying our bills, making sure our kids get to all of their events on time and juggling all of the other claims on our time. All of those things make the adult learner prepared to go back to school and be successful.

The first thing I tell people is to examine your life and pick out a time and place that will allow you to be the most productive. You need your own study place where you have a desk or table, a computer, and some quiet time. I have found that creating my own “study place” as well as “study time” has given me the ability to focus and work on my homework. Examine your life and determine what will be the best time to study and stick to it. If you decide that the best time to study is at 9pm after the kids are asleep, then make that time inviolate and stick with it!

Being organized will also help you be more successful. You already know how to juggle your family life and work, so now determine what it takes to keep your school work together. I would use a large binder with sections, or use separate ones for each class. You should also create a separate folder for each class on your computer. In addition to physically organizing your work you need to keep very good notes.

To get the most out of my notes I always make sure to read ahead before going to class each night. This allows you to listen for the main points of the lecture. I like to use short bulleted lists that include those main points. When I would get home after class I would copy my notes into a notebook specific to each class and enhance each of my bullets, rounding out the information. Copying your notes helps to set them in your memory. Adding more information helps you to understand the material.

Article written by: Dr. Cyndi Wilson Porter, Vice President for Extended Academic Programs at the University of the Incarnate Word.

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