Sunday 18 March 2018

Haven't seen a classroom in years? Don't panic!

Here are our top tips for adult learners who may be nervous about re-entering education

So you've decided to undertake a Springboard+ course to improve your employment opportunities in the future. If it's been a while since you stepped into a classroom, however, you may be feeling apprehensive. Don't worry, this is completely normal. Common concerns include everything from taking tests to developing study habits and finding a balance between study and home responsibilities.

That said, choosing a Springboard+ course can not only enhance your employability but your connection with a new group of peers will increase your network of contacts, creating yet more opportunities in the future. So nerves shouldn't put you off heading back to the classroom.

Below we take a look at some of the fears you may have - and how to overcome them.

Get involved

The first few weeks of your course are the best time to meet other people. Developing a group of friends who you can discuss assignments and lectures with or borrow notes from if you miss a class is an invaluable resource. They can also offer support if you become overwhelmed and need re-assurance that this is the right route for you.

While you may have family and home commitments, it's important to make a genuine effort to meet new people on your course. And if you're apprehensive at the prospect of approaching complete strangers, remember one thing: everyone is in the same boat as you.

Manage your time effectively

Pick the course that suits you, build on the strengths you have and do not ignore them. If you chose a course that has a large time commitment and will require a high level of engagement, talk with your family and ensure you have their support as without that you may struggle. If you have been out of education for a long time don't be afraid to go back - many of these courses have a huge practical element. You'll also find that lecturers and tutors want you to succeed and will help you reach your goals.

Age is just a number

Coming to college for the first time or coming back after a long break can be intimidating. It is common for adult learners to be concerned about not only the practicalities of managing the demands that their education pursuits demand but also to be worried about how they will fare compared to younger students.

The important thing to remember is that you have garnered a wealth of experience during your time in employment. Even if the course you are considering embarking on is in a completely different field than your area of previous employment, you can draw on your life experiences and utilise them to achieve results.

Use technology

Returning to education poses many challenges and using technology you are unfamiliar with can be one of them. The reality is that computer technologies can be a great tool for accessing resources and completing course work.

If you are concerned that you may not be up-to-date with the technologies the course provider utilises ask what computer supports are available to you. Many colleges and institutions provide extra assistance to those who may not be as technology versed or why not visit your local library before the start date of your course? Often they have free or cheap sessions on teaching adults how to become more computer literate.

Put a study plan into action

Getting back into education can mean a major change in lifestyle, so it's a good idea to plan for it. Draw up a timetable jotting down what you need to do every day - this will include the times your classes take place, and other commitments you may have such as picking up the children from school.

You then have to decide how you are going to change your daily habits so that you can incorporate enough time for study into your daily routine to achieve your course goals. It may sound simple but re-adjusting to college life can be a challenging task.

There's no such thing as a stupid question

Finally, it may sound simple but if you are unsure of something, ask. The chances are if you have questions, 90 per cent of the class will also have questions, but are too nervous to ask. Always keep in mind that your tutors and lectures are there to help you, not trip you up.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in this section