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Help for Adults in College Courses

Tips for Adult Learners Returning to the Classroom

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A young mom does her homework for an upcoming class.

Adults in college should take advantage of every spare moment in order to complete assignments on time.

Photo © Regine Mahaux / Getty Images

Now that you've made the commitment to take some college courses, you need to figure out how you'll fit them into your busy life. Here are some tips adults in college can use to make the adjustment easier:

Take Care of Yourself
While you're going back to school, don't neglect your need to sleep and eat well. After all, you're pushing your mind and body to greater heights during this time. Plan ahead and pack healthy snacks, water, and a light dinner for the nights you'll be in class. In addition, consider arriving a few minutes early if possible so that you're not rushed and more likely to feel flustered.

Manage Your Time Effectively
As a student, your time is more limited than ever. Resist the urge to wait for the perfect time to tackle your schoolwork. After all, you're probably not going to find a lot of long stretches in your schedule where you can do your schoolwork uninterrupted. Instead, use small chunks of "me time" whenever you can. This may mean doing some of the required reading on your lunch hour, before your kids wake up each morning, or while they're doing their own homework at night.

Find Out What Your School Has to Offer
Most colleges and universities offer special programs for adults in college classes, including career counseling, child care, and technology courses. Contact you the Office of Student Affairs at your school to find out what programs are available to you.

Attend New Student Orientation
With your busy schedule, you may be tempted to skip those optional new student orientation activities. However, they offer a great opportunity to ask questions, meet other new students, and get oriented to the campus, so even when finding child care is inconvenient, attending these sessions is usually worth your time.

Broaden Your Social Network
Going back to school is also a great opportunity to meet new people. Chances are, you won't be the only mature learner in your class, either. So don't be shy or make assumptions that others won't want to get to know you. Instead, make an effort to introduce yourself to one or two students in each of your classes. Also, try to find at least one person in every class with whom you can swap phone numbers and e-mail addresses. This way, if either of you has a question or needs to unexpectedly miss a class, you'll have someone to call.

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