5 Study Tips For Going Back To School as an Adult Student

Posted by Emily Fix on Friday, January 19, 2018 at 2:39 PM PST

A student studying with a child on her lap


When I was gearing up to go back to school as an adult student, there was only one thing I dreaded: homework. This was my downfall during my first attempt at college and I was determined to make it work my second time around. I’ve learned that the work I do outside of class is often just as important or even more important than attending the class itself, but homework time doesn’t come automatically built into your schedule. It’s up to you to fit homework into running errands, taking care of kids, and working. Not an easy task! Here are five study tips that have worked for me and my friends at the School of New and Continuing Studies (NCS) when it comes to being successful at getting out homework done.

Create a study area:

Make a space that helps you focus. Many of us cannot dedicate a whole room to this, but there are still things you can do to help you create a great study space. A cleared off dining table with a cup of tea, earplugs, and good lighting may be all you need. I have a small desk in the living room I like to sit at while I listen to music. Also, I try not to have my phone near me since I know I will always want to look at it. Try to keep anything that distracts you out of your study area.

Mark it on your calendar:

Don’t leave studying to chance! I find that if I decide to study “when I have time” I’m always able to find another chore, errand, or cat video to distract myself. Make an appointment to study like it is an important meeting or doctor’s appointment, and treat it as such (try to only cancel it if you *really* need to). Create a routine that suits you and stick to it. I always study early in the morning before the day has started and my mind is fresh.

Test out different study materials:

Depending on your learning style, different methods may be more or less effective for helping you learn new information. See if your professor will let you record lectures, or if any of your reading material come in audiobook format. For example, I listened to one required book for a Theology class during my long commute to my internship. It was a nice break for my eyes, made my commute more interesting, and got me caught up for the week all at once. Take advantage of interactive course materials like videos and graphics, and if there aren’t any, ask your professor if there are any resources they would recommend. Khan Academy has great videos on certain subjects, and there are great educational resources on YouTube as well.

Connect with your peers:

If you are studying for a test or writing a paper, having a fresh perspective and another brain to pick can help you when you’re stuck in a rut. See if a classmate would be willing to meet for coffee every week to work on things for class, even if it’s just for an hour. If you can’t fit that into your schedule, see if you can start a group text or chat for class. My classmates and I chat on Slack all the time about our assignments since most of us work full-time and don’t live near each other.

Find out what learning resources are available:

If you’re struggling or falling behind, tap into the resources your school has available. Most schools like Seattle University, offer tutoring labs, writing centers, and library resources even if you are part-time or online. Also, reach out to your professor if you have a question or are having an issue keeping up. They want you to succeed!

If you are an adult student looking to go back to school, contact us to learn more about the B.A. Degree Completion programs, courses, and certificates at NCS.