I am pleased to introduce this guest article by Mariana, who writes on the topics of online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her site where you can also find more articles.

Going back to school after you’ve graduated from the traditional undergraduate age and lifestyle is a decision rife with positives. Generally, older students — even those who are still in their 20s — are more focused and ambitious than they were in their late teens and earlier 20s. Think about it: when it’s your money and your direct choice to go back to school, you’re more likely to invest your whole self in learning quite a bit more. Going back to school after you’ve had some work experience also helps you understand the value of education and the direct relation to what you learn in class to how it can help you in your career. You’ve hopefully learned how to relegate your partying to after-hours only, and even if it’s still not pleasant, you understand the importance of adhering to a regular sleep schedule and waking up early each morning.

On the other hand, if you’re unable to give up your current job to pursue a degree full-time, you’re going to face some unique struggles that you didn’t encounter as a traditional undergraduate. Even if you worked on campus in college, the stress, responsibility, and often times inflexibility of a “grown-up” job in the real world will interfere more with your academics than your gig working in the library or engineering shop did. How are you supposed to study the way you want, attend classes, and impress your boss in the office?

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  • Set up a study plan for each class: With such a hectic schedule, it would be foolish to assume you can set up a rigid study plan for the entire semester, but you will need serious structures to get it all done. As soon as you visit your classes and get your syllabi, decide when and where the best times for you to study are. Look ahead so that you can set aside extra time for tests, papers and projects, and talk with your boss about adopting a more flexible work schedule — staying late one day and coming in later the next — if you need more time before an exam.
  • Talk to your professor: As an adult student, you’re still going to need face time with your professor. At the beginning of the semester, speak with your teachers about your strenuous schedule so that they can better understand your study habits and ability — or inability to meet during office hours and extra review sessions. Also try to e-mail or Skype with your professor throughout the semester if you feel like you’re falling behind. Even a ten-minute, one-on-one meeting can clear up complex concepts and prevent you from stressful study sessions all alone.
  • Meet with others in your class: Depending on your program, you will probably have a mixed class of younger students, full-time, non-working students, and students with similar schedules as yourself. Make a point to study with the others when you can to facilitate discussion and make sure you’re not missing anything from lectures or the readings. Associating yourself with other students will also help you feel more connected to the class and have a more positive, productive attitude towards studying.
  • Review notes online: Most college and graduate professors use online tools like Blackboard to post notes, extra discussion and other study materials that they may or may not go over in class. Review these for convenient, supplemental study help during your lunch break or off-time.
  • Know how and when to bring your academics to the office: If your boss is helping finance your education, he or she will probably be more understanding about your added workload. But if you’re going to school on your own time, you shouldn’t bring your homework to work. Know how to apply the concepts you learn in class to the job you’re doing in the office, but don’t chat with classmates or use the office resources for homework.

I am pleased to introduce this guest article by Mariana, who writes on the topics of online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her site where you can also find more articles.

I am pleased to introduce this guest article by a new friend John, the creator of HiLife2B, where he hopes to inspire people and to help them achieve their dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @CJAnyasor

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