While many future massage therapists are looking to get out of the corporate ideology and work environment, the old corporate adage is true for going back to school, "Failure to plan is planning to fail." This article will incorporate many different strategies and ideas designed to help the busy adult learner achieve academic success.
Let's address the reality of going back to school and everything it will include for you as a student. Adult learners bring many different things to the table every time they go to class, whether it is work stress, family issues, money problems, nervousness about school, etc. The key to success in any endeavor is to be prepared. Successful businesses always begin with a plan, and that same idea applies to students going to massage school. Create a plan of success for your academic efforts and think of school as your new (or second, third or fourth) job. Incorporate positive strategies to assist in organizing yourself as you add school success to an already busy life.
The main excuses for not doing well academically are: "I just didn't have time to study"; "I just don't understand the material"; "I just can't do it"; or "There was too much to study." Successful people don't have time or energy to waste on excuses. The goal is to provide you with several strategies so you won't ever have to use these (and other) excuses as you return to school.
There are several areas that are most important in preparing yourself to succeed in the classroom environment. The following will be discussed in detail:
- Organization and time management
- In-class learning
- Daily study system
- Test preparation
Organize your study materials so they help you achieve the best results. It can be as simple as separating subject organizers and notebooks by class or section-use a system that works and makes sense to you. Organization means you are ready for success, mentally and physically. Know where your materials are, and know how they are organized.
Organization includes managing and budgeting your time. Schedule your study time. We are all busy, so make sure to budget and schedule time to study; put it in your day planner, iPod touch, iPhone, etc. Make it part of your day, every day. Schedules are designed to help us organize ourselves, and they should be flexible.
Have a balanced diet, and make sure to take good care of yourself physically. Get enough sleep and plenty of exercise. If your body is run down, it will be more difficult to focus on academics, or you may try to study and feel frustrated because very little is being retained. Include physical activity in your day. A 2001 study by the Society for Neuroscience indicated that increased physical activity can "increase cognitive function"-a fancy way to say exercise can increase the rate of learning.
Be prepared. Schools should provide a syllabus for you as a guide to follow for your coursework. Schools provide this so you have the best opportunity for success, and so you may plan to do well. Here are a few do's and don'ts:
- Do the required reading in advance, so when the instructor provides information in class, it is not foreign to you. As you read that new information, make sure to write any question you have in your notebook so you can ask in class.
- Do your homework. Falling behind makes it difficult to catch up in class.
- Do be on time. This is a difficult thing at times for adult learners with all other things in life happening at the same time, but being late often leads to missing information, feeling rushed and feeling frustrated by things that may have caused us to be late.
- Do pay attention in class. The more you hear, see or read information, the better you will be able to retain new information and allow it to build on existing knowledge
- Do ask questions. Unanswered questions can lead to lingering uncertainty, which may lead to nervousness or missing information.
- Do schedule and stay with a daily study program; the benefits will be apparent almost instantly.
- Don't get distracted in class-what you see, hear and read in class will be the important information you will need to learn. Distractions or daydreaming will prevent you from understanding valuable knowledge you will need to learn. The hard part is to know when you are distracted.
- Don't fall behind, The workload becomes increasingly difficult when you need to do more than just daily class work.
- Don't procrastinate. Putting off studying or homework will only add to future stress when it is time to prepare for a test, and your base of knowledge will be lacking.
- Don't make excuses. You are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your academics. Take charge, have a plan and follow the plan that works for you.