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To be a successful adult learner, there are some mistakes to avoid, to make you thrive at college as a student mom/dad, and adult student. In this post, we are going to talk about those types of mistakes that could cost you a hefty price if you commit them. So, let’s get started.

First of all, if you decided to go back to school as an adult, I want to take a moment to congratulate you. It’s a brave decision since you will have to work hard and sacrifice a lot.

I made the decision myself a couple of years ago. I went back to school to pursue my Master’s Degree (Graduate School) and chose to do it abroad, in Italy, to be precise.  I’ve always dreamed of living in Italy and have been wanting to study abroad forever, so I thought, why not pursue both?

But as much as I enjoyed it, I had some regrets. There were some things I wished I’d done better, and other things that I regret not doing. The thing is, things work differently for adult students, such as the way we learn, organizing our schedules, and all.

The struggles we must face as non-traditional students will also be different. Even though the same mistakes could also be made by our younger classmates, we could experience bigger impacts and consequences when we are the ones making them.

9 Crucial Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Be a Successful Adult Learner

So, what are the mistakes you need to completely avoid if you want to be a successful adult learner/student mom and dad?

Here are some of them:

1. You Don’t Have Clear Goals.

Going back to school as an adult is a big decision that could affect not only you but also your family. It will also make a great impact on your future, as well as your family’s future.  Therefore, it’s imperative that you have clear goals about why you want to do them in the first place.

When you know exactly what you want from this experience, you’ll know where to put your focus throughout your study, and act accordingly as soon as you start your study.

For example, university lecturers usually consist of a good combination of academists and practitioners from industries related to the study program.

If you want to go back to school because you want to change your career direction, you could start to network with some of your lecturers who are also professionals working in the industry you are interested in.

You could ask questions, and seek help, advice, an introduction, and recommendation from them, as well as your other professors and from the career counseling services provided by your university. Make the most of this opportunity because most likely you won’t have this kind of opportunity again.

2. Spend All Your Time Studying

Being able to continue your education is a privilege that many don’t have, so you need to maximize the experience the best you can. Because after all, college could offer you so much more than a degree.

It’s difficult for an adult to return to education, there’s no denying that. Yes, you need to work harder than your younger classmates, and simple things that they take for granted is a luxury for you (e.g being able to study in peace, without interruptions from your children, being able to focus on your study and don’t have to juggle it with work and family and so on), but that doesn’t mean you should spend all your time studying.

Make friends from different classes, ages, cultural backgrounds, and social-economic statuses. Don’t just make friends with your classmates. Approach your seniors, and your professors and make a genuine connection with them.

Observe and absorb everything, and learn from anything and anyone. Keep an open mind. Ask them tips on surviving university, managing your time, finding a job in your industry, and so on.

Get to know your classmate better on a personal level such as their culture, customs, their foods, trivial things about their countries, even learn their languages et cetera.

You’ll be surprised how different they are from one another and how each and every one of them brings their own uniqueness in terms of personality and expertise that could enrich your experience and give you knowledge outside the classroom.

3. Pay Full Price for Everything.

One of the most important things you need to do to survive university as an adult student/student mom is manage your finance. College is not cheap, and on top of that, you use the money that could be spent on your family’s needs instead. If you are applying for a loan, the repayment process will affect your family’s life financially.

Thus, the one big mistake you should avoid if you want to be a successful adult learner is to pay full price for everything, when you can have them for less than full price, even free.

How? By using the facilities provided by the campus for students. They can be physical facilities such as health clinics, swimming pools, multimedia labs, gyms et cetera, or non-physical facilities such as free career counseling services, student services offices that could help you with your study-related things, and so on.

You can also get a discount to buy some books. Look at the list and find some information if you can buy them cheaper online, buy second hands, or look at information boards where the other students advertise things they want to sell.

If you already make a network with some alumni, you could also ask if you can borrow their used books or buy them if they are selling them. Search in the campus’s library, as well as the city’s libraries to find some of the books you need.

And don’t miss out on student discounts. In a lot of countries, students get special discounts. Try to find out what they are and use them.

They might offer you discounts to buy books at bookstores, on monthly transportation subscriptions, museum tickets, and even cinemas, and restaurants. Use them to maximize your study experience as well as save money as much as you could.

4.  Afraid to Ask Around

I still regret not knowing that my campus provided a free gym for us to use. Well, I remembered vaguely I read about it somewhere when I did my research, but I didn’t pay much attention as I thought I wouldn’t have time to use them either.

As a result, I paid for a membership in a gym near my apartment (a membership I hardly used, not surprisingly). If I asked around, I could save money by using the gym provided by the campus when I had the time to come.

So, don’t be afraid to ask around, because perhaps, the consequences will be greater than just paying for a gym membership when you don’t actually have to. And don’t hesitate to ask even for small things that you thought you should be able to figure out yourself such as asking for directions.

It’s normal to not know exactly what to do in order to get something or to not know where everything is at the beginning. It’s part of the learning process. Asking around will help you save time than trying to figure out everything by yourself.

5. Procrastinate

Procrastinating is a big mistake an adult learner and student mom& dad should avoid at any cost. The problem with being a non-traditional learner is that we have so many responsibilities to juggle at the same time, and delaying one task will only pile up our to-do list.

The more things we have piling up, the harder it will be to force ourselves to sit down and finish them, one by one, dreaded by the sheer amount of the tasks and the long hours needed to finish them.

Another reason why an adult and non-traditional learner should avoid procrastination is that with plenty of things going on in our lives, unexpected things could happen.

We might delay working on an assignment thinking we still have time, but then one of our children gets sick or our boss gives us extra work, and in the end, we couldn’t finish the assignment on time and miss the deadline.

Finish your school assignments and start your study for the exams as early as you can. Therefore, you have extra time to spare should some emergency happen. Get tips on how to avoid procrastination for adult students/student moms and dads, here

9 Crucial Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Be a Successful Adult Learner

6. Forgetting to Back Up Your Work

As with procrastination, time also plays an important role in your back-to-school journey as a non-traditional student. It’s a precious commodity you can’t afford to waste.

Forgetting to back up your work means that you’ll lose your hard work and have to do it all over again, wasting the time you don’t have. Not to mention wasting energy and perhaps more money to spend.

So, choose your school-related gadget carefully. Make sure you invest in some good quality ones. A high-quality laptop means you won’t have a big risk of having them suddenly crash.

Losing a thumb drive containing your work could be a disaster. Having an unreliable power bank means you can’t work anywhere and anytime you want since you are always at risk of losing power and so on.

Having your printer jammed will cost you some money and time to reprint them at a printing center. Thus, always remember to back up your work. And don’t just rely on your gadgets. Use the Internet such as Google Docs, Dropbox, and Clouds to store your work.

7. Wasting too Much Time on Social Media and Socializing too Often

This is something not only an adult learner, a student mom and dad and other types of non-traditional learners need to avoid in order to become successful learners, but it can also apply to every student at any level of education, and pretty much anyone who has access to social media.

Social media is for entertainment purposes only, so check them out when you have free time and decide to entertain yourself, give yourself some time to relax and reward your hard work for the day, instead of spending hours scrolling and in the end, becoming addicted to your phone

In addition, if you are interested in going out to socialize and network, do it wisely and organize your schedule.

Make sure you only come for the networking purpose, because you know you’ll get something useful in the end, not solely for the “partying” purpose.

The same thing applies to joining an organization or a campus student association. Although it is a positive thing to do, it could take much of your time.

If you wish to join one, choose the one that will benefit you the most and is in line with your end goals, and could give some benefits and assistance for your plan after graduation.

University Application Timeline

Get the information you need about the university application deadlines for the September intake; what months do applications normally open, what you need to do during each step of the application process, and so on.

You can also get the IELTS / TOEFL and GMAT / GRE Study Plan, as well as useful tips to make your study preparation easier. In addition, get the Scholarship Application Timeline and give yourself ample time to prepare yourself!

8. Limiting Your Options

As an adult returning to school, we have to overcome plenty of challenges, but that doesn’t mean we pass on opportunities that come our way because we thought we don’t have what it takes to accomplish them, don’t have time to finish them, or just too old to do them.

It can be anything, such as a volunteer program, an internship, competitions, and so on. Think carefully about it, and weigh in the pros and cons. Will it be worth your time? Does it align with your future goals? Or is it beneficial for you now or in the future?

Measure your capabilities and be honest with yourself. Do you have what it takes to finish it until the very end? Can you do it well or will you spread yourself thin?

The point is, don’t limit your options because you are an adult and a non-traditional student. But you need to acknowledge that THERE ARE some limitations regarding your unique situation. Thus, choose carefully as you can’t afford to make significant mistakes throughout your study.

9. Forget to Enjoy the Experience

The last mistake you need to avoid and become a successful adult learner is not enjoying the experience. To be able to go back to school as an adult/student mom and dad amid the chaos in our lives is a privilege.

Therefore, enjoy them as much as you can, in the best way possible. The best way according to you, of course. Find something from the experience that makes you happy. Focus on them. Then, the rest of the tasks won’t feel so hard anymore.

Make friends that could last for a lifetime. After all, being an adult student gives you a good advantage in making and maintaining meaningful friendships since you are no longer interested in dramas and gossip anymore.

Make connections and build networks that will be beneficial for your future plan. And most importantly, create memorable memory. It’s an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity anyway that you want to remember and cherish for a long time.

Over to You…

As adult students, student moms and dads, and any other type of non-traditional student, we have plenty of limitations. We can’t afford to make mistakes as they can cost us dearly, whether our time, energy, and money and could affect our work and family.

Thus, we need to avoid unnecessary mistakes to become successful adult learners, such as not having clear goals, studying all the time, paying full price for everything, and being afraid to ask around.

Other mistakes to avoid are procrastinating, not making backup for your work, wasting too much time socializing and on social media, limiting your options, and forgetting to enjoy the amazing roller coaster journey of going back to school as a non-traditional student.

This is a list of advice that I think will benefit you. But these are my opinion based on my experience of going back to school at 33 years old, and as a mom of a preschooler (then). When you finally take the leap and go back to school, you might have completely different experiences than mine.

Whatever it is or how it would be, I hope you enjoy your back-to-school experience and reach your goals. At the end of the day, you should do whatever makes you happy because that is the most important thing.

So, what do you think of those mistakes? Would you like to add some more or share some experiences? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Pin this for later and share them on social media, who knows, someone might need this. Thanks so much and till next time!!!

9 Crucial Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Be a Successful Adult Learner