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Adult Learners

Making the adjustment to school

One of the more challenging aspects of returning to school is balancing career, family and school commitments. While stressful, many adult students have found creative ways of coming to terms with their various roles and responsibilities. Some suggestions:

  • Evaluate your needs and adjust your priorities. Take the time to decide which commitments are important to you and which ones you may have to put on hold. Examining your expectations of yourself and redefining what is realistic may help you to reduce stress and avoid feelings of being overwhelmed. Often, women who return to school fall into the "superwoman" trap by taking on additional responsibilities without adjusting other aspects of their life or cutting back in areas that may no longer be a priority. Many returning students find it helpful to reassess their time management patterns and strategies to fit with an academic schedule. Resources and assistance are available through the Student Development & Counseling Center.
  • Maintain existing relationships. Major life changes, such as returning to school, can be disruptive to you and those close to you. Relationships with family and friends may require a period of readjustment. One way to make the adjustment period go smoother is to set aside the time to talk about your changing needs, your new schedule, and concrete ways that those close to you can be supportive.
  • Enhance your support system. Find academic and emotional support through friends, classmates or a support group. Research and experience has found that social support can protect individuals from stress-related illness. Also, friends and colleagues may be able to provide help with childcare, transportation, running errands, etc.
  • Allow time for transition from role to role. Arrange time for some type of break when switching from one role to another. For example, quit studying ten minutes early and spend the extra time doing something quiet or enjoyable, such as reading a magazine or practicing relaxation techniques. This can help you to be less distracted and more receptive when you switch roles.
  • Find support if you begin to experience feelings that are uncomfortable and/or difficult to manage. Many adult students report feeling guilty about some part of their role as students, such as not being able to spend enough time with their family and friends. If you experience these feelings, it can be helpful to have a support system to rely on or seek professional guidance. The Student Development & Counseling Center offers individual counseling for students.
  • Involve your family or significant others in your school experience. There are some creative ways in which children can be included in your academic routine. For instance, young children can read a book or color quietly while you go over your notes or children can accompany you while you are taking care of errands such as buying or selling back books. There are some activities that may be of interest to your family on campus. LSUS offers a variety of fun and interesting activities that you and your family can enjoy.
  • Reserve some time each day for just you and your partner/children. Allow time for when you and your partner can share each other's days; and if you have children, a time they can have your undivided attention.
  • Develop a system in case of emergency. Arrange a weekly schedule of your classes and related activities and provide a copy for your child's school, friends, and relatives, etc. Have a backup plan for dealing with emergencies; for instance, if your child becomes ill.
  • Get involved on campus. There are a variety of options for student involvement that will help you feel more a part of the University community and facilitate your success. Consider joining a student organization, the student government, or an academic club. Contact the University Center (UC 232; 797-5393).