How to Succeed with Online Learning as an Adult Student

March 18, 2020

Online learning can offer accessibility and flexibility to adult learners who are otherwise committed to family, work, and managing the home. Adult learners have unique learning requirements compared to their younger counterparts, as they’ve often been removed from the educational environment for several years. Although this can be challenging, with a few strategic interventions adults can achieve personal and professional goals through online, or distance, learning.

1. Become comfortable with the online platform.

Different schools will use different online platforms, or learning management systems. Don’t be afraid of these. Becoming familiar and comfortable with the IT platform that your school uses can make or break your online experience. Typically there will be an online video or workshop for online students to access in order to become familiar with how it functions before classes begin. Knowing how to follow the course outline, contribute to online forums, submit assignments, and interact with your teacher are all parts of online courses. Becoming comfortable with these functions early on saves stress and anxiety later on.

2. Manage your time.

When work, family, and home commitments are already filling up your schedule, you might wonder how you could ever make time for school. It can be done. Take a look at your schedule and carve out time to dedicate to school. This may mean waking up earlier to study and work on class assignments before the rest of the household wakes. Or, this may be committing an evening or two away from home. Hiding out somewhere quiet like the library or a cafe where you can avoid distractions may be your new study space. Whenever you choose to make time, stick to it and make it a routine.

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3. Review how to study.

Good study habits save time and increase your learning. Take some time before classes start to review how to write an essay, how to access your school’s online library, and how to critically read articles. Most schools have a plethora of online resources to help their students succeed. If not, the internet is full of valuable learning resources from other schools that freely share learning resources.

4. Coping with kids at home.

If leaving kids home with a partner or other adult is not a choice, then consider setting rules with kids about quiet time where you are not to be distracted, unless it’s an emergency. If your kids are allowed to watch TV before bed, use that time for your studies and definitely not for cleaning. Kids can learn to be more helpful and take more responsibility around the house in order to help a parent study. Not only does this help them develop a greater sense of responsibility but they’re also seeing you set positive examples about commitment, hard work, and achieving goals.

5. Create a quiet work environment.

This can be challenging in an already full house bursting at the seams with kids and belongings, however, it is important. A quiet, clean workspace allows you to focus and be far more productive than if you work in a cluttered and noisy space with multiple distractions. While not everyone has an extra room to convert into an office space, try to make the most of what you do have, even if it’s temporary. For example, if the kitchen table is where you’ll be studying ensure it’s free of clutter and free of people.

With dedication, time management, and initiative adult students can have a successful learning experience with online learning. Take time before courses start to make a plan, review good study habits, and ensure that you’re comfortable with the school’s online platform so that you can optimize your learning experience.