Digital shifts in the workplace have given adults the confidence to embrace technology in other parts of their life, including using it for personal and professional growth through distance learning.
Having access to technology is great, but how can adults studying via distance learning make the most of the experience? Atelisha Harilal, Head of Student Recruitment and Marketing at JSE-listed higher education provider, STADIO, has some tips for adult learners.
Communicate with your support network
Even though you will be the one doing the studying, it’s important to keep open lines of communication with the people around you. Harilal says that having a conversation with your loved ones is essential. You will need them to understand up front that there will be implications for them too as the demands on your time shift while you are studying.
This also extends to your line manager and the HR department at your workplace. Having a company that supports you is key because you will need time off for your studies. “I’ve found a lot of HR managers and line managers respond better if you communicate proactively,” she adds.
Be clear about your end goal and constantly remind yourself why you are doing this. That way, when you have moments of difficulty, you won’t be as easily overwhelmed.
For adult learners, the demands on their time look very different to when they were younger and perhaps first engaged with tetiary education. “You’re transitioning into education again and it’s essential to prepare yourself mentally for the rigours that lie ahead and understanding that you will need to make sacrifices… but that commitment pays off,” says Harilal.
She adds that when she speaks to students at graduation it’s clear they feel all the effort they’ve put in to achieve that moment of success was worth it.
Be ready to go from the first day
Set up your timetable to make space for your studies from the start. That way, you can begin engaging with your coursework as soon as possible and aren’t left scrambling when assignment due dates arrive.
“Practically, this can also include getting prepared by gathering all your textbooks and setting up a spot at home that you can use as a dedicated study space. This will help you get into the right headspace for studying when the work begins,” says Harilal.
Understand the financial aspects of educational pursuits
How much do fees cost? How much will you need to invest in your textbooks? What will the other ancillary costs be? These are important questions to consider when getting ready for distance learning. Although you won’t incur some of the costs associated with contact lessons (such as transport), it’s still wise to ensure you have understood all the costs that are involved.
Be willing to endure some uncertainty
Knowing ahead of time that it may not always be an easy journey to study further as an adult helps when you encounter challenges.
Just as a new fitness routine can feel impossible or overwhelming at first, but with practice can become very achievable, having a growth mindset when it comes to distance learning can help when facing obstacles.
“Being prepared for a little bit of uncertainty helps you to be resilient to those challenges, because a lot of times, it’s about mindset, and you shouldn’t just throw in the towel at the first sense of disorientation,” says Harilal.
Choose the right learning partner
Effective distance learning isn’t always as simple as taking an in-person curriculum and moving it online. Some institutions have intentionally designed their courses around a distance learning model, meaning that they are better equipped to support learners in that context.
Carefully explore your options and pick a tertiary institution that can help you build education into your life, rather than requiring you to build your life around your education.
For more information on STADIO’s range of distance learning programmes, visit the STADIO website.