Jessica is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at NSU. She works as an academic success coach at the Tutoring and Testing Center.
Students pursuing higher education straight out of high school tend to face a slew of apprehensions and considerations. However, as an adult learner, or one who has been “out of the loop” academically speaking for a while, there are also unique challenges to consider. If you find yourself to be in the latter category, here are a couple of ideas to help you acclimate to student life.
Don’t isolate yourself
As an adult learner, it is so easy to feel like Billy Maddison among a sea of younger learners when you’re sitting in class. According to Elizabeth Alton of the American Intercontinental University, isolating yourself from your peers because you feel you have nothing in common is actually linked to academic failure. Your ages might be different, and your life experiences might also differ, but you have at least one common factor — you’re in the same class. Building social support on the basis that you are sitting through the same lectures and doing the same assignments means that, if nothing else, you can turn to those classmates for support in study groups or class projects.
Often, adult learners might think something along the lines of “if I’m going back to school, I’m jumping in head-first,” and they end up biting off more than they can chew. When you find yourself with 36 hours’ worth of work and realize that there are only 24 hours in the day, it is important to prioritize assignments and manage your time effectively.
If that means you have to get your degree by going to school part-time instead of full-time so you can be there to care for your family or continue to work, that is okay. It will ultimately be way more impactful to successfully take smaller steps in achieving your goals, than to only be able to give 40 percent effort to the 200 responsibilities and tasks you have to complete.
Take stock of your resources
We all run around with the internet in our pockets, so why not take a moment to do a quick Google search of some resources available to you through NSU and the surrounding community? For instance, NSU offers really awesome support for populations such as veterans, older adult learners, continuing education programs and so forth. Coupling these population-specific resources with the general on-campus resources found at places like the Office of Career Development, the Tutoring and Testing Center and the Office of International Affairs will give you a wide breadth of support for your specific needs.