Returning to School? Learn to Study Smarter, Not Harder

As the lazy days of summer reluctantly give way to the chill in the autumn air, new fall routines begin once again and these may include studying and school. If you're a returning student, you may quickly rebound, but if you're new to school and studying, perhaps returning after many years away, then read on. This article explores how to make your journey easier.

First of all, know that most adults return to studies because of some life transition. It is this life transition that can rear its head time and again throughout your studies, to challenge you so that you may lose sight of why you embarked on this in the first place. Be gentle with yourself.

You may find yourself walking into your new program of study asking yourself if you really belong there, questioning yourself and wondering if you can do it. YES, you can! And you will. Before you know it, you will adapt as it begins to feel like you've always been there. Again, be gentle with yourself.

I'm not here to tell you the obvious: be organized, set goals, manage your time, etc. You know all that and more! You've likely been running your life and household for years, so you know what you need to do. However, successful studying is not about quantity or studying harder. Rather, it's about studying smart. Some people believe you need to study a lot or often. Actually, it's about studying efficiently. Did you know that we spend six years of our lives waiting in line, waiting in general and watching television? Think of what you can now do with all that time in the face of your studies. Get into the habit of toting with you, your materials, books, notes...and use these times to read and reread. You'll be well prepared for exams because you won't be cramming (A little note here for writers who feel they just can't find the time to write: you, too, can use wait times to write!).

Know thyself! How do you learn best? Are you auditory and learn best by listening? Are you visual and learn best by observing or reading? Are you tactile or kinesthetic and learn best by touching or doing? Good teaching involves all three types of delivery of the learning. As learners, however, it is important to know how you learn and then use this knowledge to become a better learner. To understand your learning style, type into GOOGLE, the keywords "Learning Styles" and do one of the quizzes online. Also see my page above titled Multiple Intelligences to learn more about your natural gifts as a learner. When we know ourselves, we can get what we need. This takes the guesswork out of our learning.

You never stop learning; it's an endeavor you do from cradle to grave, both formally and informally. Whether you're taking a course for fun or for professional reasons, you are responsible for your success. Have a wonderful start to your new beginnings as a learner!

Have you had to go back to school and retrain as an adult? What tip or advice can you offer? What worked for you?

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