New horizons, plus challenges, for adult learners
Starting college is an exciting time for all students, including those who are returning to education after a break or in later life.
For adult learners a whole new educational adventure, potentially leading to life-changing opportunities, awaits at college each September.
As people with more life experience they enjoy certain advantages, not least in the transferable skills they often bring and the focus they have on what they want to achieve.
But there are also extra challenges to tackle, particularly for anyone with work or family commitments.
That is where following some proven strategies – as outlined in many further education websites and blogs – for things like time management, studying and financial budgeting can prove invaluable.
Finding time for study – and keeping motivation in mind
Finding a slot in an already busy schedule to have quality study time is one of the biggest challenges for adult learners.
But, with a little planning, it is possible. This can start with something as simple as adding daily study sessions, tailored to suit the other demands of each day, to your digital or physical calendar for the term ahead.
Including and highlighting key events like exams and assignment dates will also help learners feel well prepared and in control of the tasks ahead.
Intrinsically linked to this is a willingness to ask others in your life, wherever possible, to help out with some of your non-academic duties – for example taking children to after-school activities.
Remembering the reason why you were inspired to get back into education, whether it be to change career, explore your creativity or achieve a long-held goal, can also be a great motivational tool to keep you going.
And scheduling study time for when your home surroundings are most likely to be quiet can give you the best chance of securing a quality hour or two.
Finding, or creating, a suitable space
Finding a suitably calm place in a hectic household can be hard though, and popular shared spaces like the kitchen or living room will usually not provide what is needed for focused study.
Instead it can be more profitable to create a dedicated study area, with everything you need close to hand, in a quiet corner of your home.
Another alternative is to escape to somewhere like a library or not-too-busy coffee shop and, in fact, varying your place of study can also help keep your mind fresh.
As essential as regular studying is, it is also important to ensure you regularly relax and have a proper break, so when you do return to your studies you feel reinvigorated.
Returning to education can involve a substantial financial investment but there is also a lot of support available to make things easier for adult learners.
The assistance packages include various Discretionary Learner Support packages and an Advance Learner Loan Bursary – and they can help with everything from equipment and college meals to childcare and UCAS fees.
More details of the support that is available can be found on the Leeds City College website here .
A celebration of learning
Luminate Education Group is supporting the Festival of Learning, a national campaign to promote the benefits of lifelong learning.
The group – which comprises Leeds City College, Keighley College, Harrogate College, White Rose Academies Trust, Yorkshire Centre for Training and Development (YCTD) and University Centre Leeds – is also working with local partners to deliver programmes that develop skills and support the wellbeing of adults.