Heading back to school as an adult learner or non-traditional student can be a challenge. Chances are, on top of your coursework, you’ll be balancing a busy schedule between home, work, family and other commitments. But don’t worry — many of our students have been there too. With more than 150 years focused on adult learners, and we’ve learned a few things about what works best for them along the way. These important tips specific to the adult learner experience can help make your journey to a degree a little bit smoother.
- Set clear goals. It’s important to have something to shoot for — whether it’s a promotion at work, a bachelor’s degree or exceeding a certain GPA each semester. Whatever your goals are, keep them realistic, write them down as a reminder and check them off when you reach them so you have something to celebrate!
- Talk to your family and friends. Going to school is a big commitment. No matter how hard you try to keep things normal at home, chances are, you’re not going to be able to stick to the routine that’s become familiar to those around you. So, make sure you let people know what you’re up to. Their support will be a big help.
- Get up to speed. If it’s been a while since you’ve been in a classroom, you may be surprised by how big of a role technology will now play your lessons. So, if you’re not comfortable using the latest gadgets and apps, you can look into taking a computer class before starting school. It’ll make the transition much easier for you.
- Stick to a schedule. Time management is going to be critical to your success. It’s not easy to balance school with work and family, but it is possible. The key is to identify the times of day when you have the best chance to focus. For example, if you have kids, it’s going to be much easier for you to do your homework while they’re doing theirs — or while they’re asleep.
- Claim your space. Whether it’s a comfortable chair or a well-lit desk in a quiet part of the house, find a study spot that feels right — and then make sure you use it! It’ll help you concentrate and make it easier for others to know when they should give you some peace and quiet.
- Understand your options. Like we said earlier, fitting school into your schedule isn’t easy — but that’s why we make sure you’ve got the flexibility you need to make it work. With Peirce Fit, you can even choose on a week-to-week basis whether you want to attend class on campus or online, depending on what works best for you at that exact moment.
- Take advantage of the resources available to you. We want to do everything we can to help you succeed, so we make sure to provide the resources you need — including our library, Career Development Services (CDS) Center, tutoring services and more. But they can only help you if you use them!
- Get to know your professors. Don’t be shy. Your professors are people too, and they want what’s best for you. If you need some extra help or if you just need something explained a second time, they’re your best resource. All you have to do is ask.
- Make friends. Whether you are going back to school at 30 or after 50, you’re not alone. Here at Peirce, you’ll see plenty of other adult learners. And it’s in your best interests to team up with them. Join a study group or just exchange contact info so you can catch up on notes if you miss a class.
Above all else, though, it’s important that you stay positive. There are always going to be setbacks, but you can’t let them get in the way of your ultimate goal. At Peirce, you can be sure everyone around you is rooting for you to succeed, and we’re here to help in every way we can.