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
To read "Going Back to School Part 1: Organization," click here.
Most times, when you arrive for class you will be studying something new. Review your notes from previous classes; chances are the coursework is organized so that information will keep on building as new information is added to older, existing knowledge. Studying prior information, even briefly before class, can allow a student to link information together, understand relationships, etc.
Avoid distractions that may interfere with your learning and set yourself up for success- make sure you are comfortable in class, can see what you need to see and hear the instructor clearly. No daydreaming, talking, passing notes, sleeping or other behavior that isn't going to help you learn. Unfortunately, most adults don't know when they are wasting time, and the hardest thing to do once we understand we are wasting time and nothing is sinking in is to get that focus back.
Strategies to regain focus include getting up and taking a brief walk, to get the body active and to stimulate the brain through even that simple exercise. Another is to stay in your seat and do a tense-relax-make the muscles in your body tense for a few seconds, then relax them allowing the physical activity to help your body and mind reset.
Elementary, middle and high school teachers who have attended teaching seminars have been taught that the average student can only focus intensely on learning new material for a time period that is roughly twice the age of the student, plus or minus five minutes. While that theory holds for younger students, with adult learners many will begin to lose focus after 20 to 30 minutes. Try to recognize when you are losing focus, and create your own personal strategy to regain focus and provide yourself the best opportunity for success.
Ask questions if you don't understand something; chances are others in class have the same question, and sometimes a revised answer regarding the subject in question is explained more clearly or differently so you may be able to understand that information. Take good notes; they are your way of interpreting information. Don't copy information word for word; instead, in your notes use words you understand and use. Paraphrase. Your notes need to make sense to you and help you learn. If the instructor uses words and terms you don't understand, and you copy those words exactly, that may not help you when it comes time to study. If you use your own words, they will make sense to you and help you learn new information easier.