Dear Lifehacker, I have recently decided to go back to school. I have a full time job and I have not studied for almost 10 years and even then I was not the best at it. What is the best way to approach this? Thanks for any advice, Daunted
Studying and learning is an excellent task to put yourself to, but it's important to work out why you actually want to return to it, so that your expectations are both realistic and pleasing to you. Do you want to gain a particular qualification, or are you simply interested in the intellectual pursuit of knowledge? Are you yearning for younger years and the ability to lie around all day in a drunken state trying to avoid writing essays? The latter isn't all that commendable, but knowing what it is that you want to do and why should help you set realistic goals.
As a personal example, five years ago my wife decided she wanted a career change, from database developer to early childhood educator, so she had a goal in mind: get the necessary study-based qualifications to meet that career goal. She quit working to pursue that goal, because it made the most sense to take that challenge on full-time.
If you're working full-time, are you able to stop working (or go part-time) in order to more fully put yourself into study? If, as your query suggests this an endeavour that you'd be looking at doing externally in your spare time, it's worth bearing in mind that this can be a tiring prospect, albeit not an impossible one.
A decade is a long time in anyone's life; you don't say if you last studied at a school or university level a decade ago, but ten year's worth of full-time work should have given you some reasonably solid work habits; if you bring those to your new study you're more likely to do better, no matter what kind of student you were in the past. Depending on the relationship between your work and chosen study path, it may also be wise to check if you can get any kind of recognition of work already performed in your field, if that's appropriate.
I'm a firm believer that none of us ever stop education, even if it's not via formal processes, but often having a structure can aid you to keep going where idle study may falter. As such, don't obsess over the student that you were. Concentrate on the student you want to be, and set aside solid uninterruptible blocks of time to your studies to ensure the best possible results.
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