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
Daily study system
Create a system of studying that makes sense to you and fits your learning style and schedule. What is a learning style? It is how you learn best, and there are several styles in which adults understand and learn new information. For decades, educators have been teaching to three basic learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Here are brief descriptions of different learning styles, as well as a tip on to how those learners can maximize their studying.
Visual: These people need visual stimulation to learn. Pictures, video and seeing things in action are what cement learning for these adults, as it allows them to make connections with things they are learning or reading about. For most visual learners, pictures added to a learning assignment may increase retention of that information by 20 percent.
- Learning tip for visual learners: Create flash cards with pictures. For example, learning muscles is perfect for creating flashcards-a picture with limited amount of text on a card.
Auditory: These people are able to hear things and understand them right away through the spoken word and those descriptions. Audio added to information may assist in retaining that information by 5 to 10 percent.
- Learning tip for auditory learners: See if your school will permit you to tape lectures as they are given. This will allow you to review the material exactly as it was presented, in audio form.
Kinesthetic: These adults love to take things apart and put them back together, and use their hands while learning. In other words, these are the hands-on learners. Touch is a powerful addition to learning, and kinesthetic learning accompanying new information may increase retention by as much as 30 percent.
- Learning tip for kinesthetic learners: Take notes in class; activity using the hands is kinesthetic. Use a model skeleton to learn the bones, draw the muscles on the body using a grease pencil and do a manikin lab out of clay to sculpt muscles.
The truth is, most adults are a combination of all three of these learning styles, though some may favor one style over the other two. If you don't understand how you learn best, you may want to consider taking an assessment of learning styles to see what may work best for you. There are numerous free online learning-style assessment tests available.
Allow enough time to study. This is a recurring theme-you need time to learn new information, so make sure you schedule it into your day. Repetition is key in education. Few people have the ability to see or hear something one time and have instant, total recall of that information; the rest of us have to keep working at learning new information. This takes time, energy and effort.
Make time to review information from class within 24 hours of learning that information, because forgetting happens more if you don't review within one day. Some theories indicate a 25-percent loss of retention each day you don't study-so if you don't study for two days, you may only retain 50 percent of the information, and after three days of not studying, you may retain only 25 percent of the information you were taught. Many studies also indicate short periods of studying over a long period of time works better in learning new information than in trying to cram for a test.
Schedule study time during daylight hours. As is the case with many adult learners, school is at night after a long day of work. Waiting until late at night may not be the best strategy, as adult learners may be too tired to effectively study. The fact is that for most of our adult lives, we have been conditioned that night is time for rest-and when we are physically and mentally tired, studying may not be effective. It's for these reasons we recommend daylight studying if possible.