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Five Top Tips for Adults Returning to Education

1. Develop a Network

Returning to education after a long period can seem very daunting. Developing a network of friends and acquaintances can greatly enhance your experience. Adult learners often fit their classes and study time around family and other commitments and may not spend a great deal of time at their place of learning. Some people will be studying part time and may spend even less time there. Developing a group of friends who you can discuss course work and assignments with and borrow or swap notes with if you miss a class is very important. Classmates can also offer a great source of support when you are feeling overwhelmed and need a bit of extra help or reassurance. Make a positive effort to meet new people at the start of your course, even if it's grabbing a cup of coffee at a break. Remember that everyone is in the same boat as you.

2. Get Involved

The first few weeks of your course are the best time to meet other people. Attend classes and lectures and ask questions if you are unsure, the chances are 90% of the class are thinking the same thing but are too shy or nervous to ask for fear of looking stupid. Get to know your lecturers or tutors and remember they are there to help you. Get to know your surroundings whether it's the library, the coffee shop or the Students Services. The more time you spend there the more you will start to feel comfortable and begin to enjoy the experience.

3. Plan Your Time

Time Management is crucial for everyone when returning to education, particularly for adult learners who are often juggling education with family and other commitments. A timetable can be useful to help you keep track of your time. Make a list of all your commitments and classes and then fit in study time around this. Learn to prioritise and except that you can't do everything, but you can always do something. Start projects and assignments early, it will save you a lot of stress and headaches and will avoid any panic the night before it's due.

4. Use Technology

Returning to education can bring many challenges and using computers and the internet can be one of them. Use this as an opportunity to upgrade your computer skills. Computer technology is often used extensively through colleges and universities for learning and can be a great tool for accessing resources and completing course work. Some courses may also have online groups where you can discuss topics and assignments. Ask what computer supports and access is available to you at your place of learning.

5. Know where to get help

A lot of adult learners will face challenges at some stage of their learning. Without adequate support problems can feel much bigger than they actually are. You do not have to handle them on your own. Remember there are lots of people who can help and support you but it's up to you to ask for assistance. Many colleges and universities have an Access Officer or a Mature Student Officer and they will be able to give you advice. Check out what supports are available to you and do not hesitate in asking for help.

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