Foundations for Success

7 Simple Steps for Adult Learners to Excel in the Classroom

You’re not a kid anymore. And, truthfully, aren’t you glad?

Besides the obvious perks of adulthood such as making your own decisions, being an adult affords you something special in the college classroom: autonomy.

Studies show that as an adult student, you possess a greater sense of maturity along with your life experiences, making you more likely to be focused, motivated and achievement oriented than your under-25 counterparts.

Plus, with 43% of all college enrollees nationwide being non-traditional students, you have unprecedented access to resources and support for your stage of life and unique learning style.

Schools which are designed to meet the special needs of adult students can foster or illuminate individual learning preferences while building on your strengths as an adult learner.

Here’s a list of seven helpful Dos and Don’ts to help you excel in the classroom:

DO capitalize on your ability to more readily connect with others to make new friendships with other students and engage in intellectual exchanges with your instructor.

DON’T focus just on external motivators like better pay or career advancement. As a non-traditional student, you’re more likely to be responsive to internal motivators such as job satisfaction and improved quality of life.

DO tap into your ability to understand and appreciate problem-centered learning. As an adult learner, you’ll learn better by applying real-world scenarios in the classroom to your own life situation. If it’s not offered, be sure to ask the “why” behind your instructor’s teaching.

DON’T underestimate your need for meaningful and relevant information. Neuroscientific studies show that adult learners learn best when they are accepted and valued. Recognize that it’s important for your opinions and experiences to be heard and respected.

DO become an active learner. Role-playing, group discussion and educational games that let you tap into your personal life experiences tend to result in better learning, retention and recall for the non-traditional student.

DON’T let fear become an obstacle to learning. Ask for positive feedback and suggestions for improvement, if necessary. Find ways to reduce anxiety and defensiveness through exercise, adequate rest or even problem-solving discussions.

DO become a self-directed learner. Adult learners appreciate learning experiences in which they’re seen as trusted, respected and capable.

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