Succeeding in school can be a challenge at any age and any stage of life. But while younger people often have the luxury of making classwork their top priority, adult students need to balance their study time with dozens of other responsibilities, from childcare to home maintenance to full time jobs.


Here are five secrets to an efficient study session that most of us don’t learn before the age of 22, simply because we don’t need to. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll make the most of your limited and valuable study time.

Adult Student Study Tips

These suggestions will help open up your day, leaving you more time to study while balancing a busy work schedule:

  1. Remove distractions before you begin your session. Turn off your Wi-Fi, arrange pet and childcare beforehand, and remove yourself physically from any distraction that may derail your concentration, like your phone. Clear the path in front of you so you don’t have to stop and force yourself back on track every five minutes.
  2. Establish a place in your life that’s reserved for study and nothing else. Staying out of your bedroom during the day can help fight insomnia, because it trains to you to identify that room with sleep only, and the same principle applies to study space. If you have a corner, a specific chair, a desk, or a room that you use for study, try to stay out of it when you’re doing other things.
  3. Talk and teach. As you learn new information, do so with the goal of being able to explain it to someone else. If you’re learning about DNA and protein synthesis, the battles of the Civil War, or the effect of domestic energy production on agricultural exports in Canada, explain what you’re learning as you learn it. If you have a spouse, child, or roommate who will talk about the subject with you, that’s great. If not, discuss it with your cat or explain what you’re learning in written form.
  4. Expect your family, friends, and housemates to respect your study time and give you the physical and mental space you need to complete your work. Of course, make sure you respect their study time in return. Whether you each go to separate rooms or you gather at the kitchen table, keep study time sacred for everyone in your house.
  5. Pay attention to what isn’t working. If your eyes have moved over the same five lines of text a dozen times and you still can’t comprehend or internalize what you’re reading about, stop. Don’t do this a dozen more times before you finally close the books. Instead, change course. Move from reading to writing and start taking notes on what you’re learning. Or move from reading to talking aloud. Or move from reading to drawing a sketch of the material. Just change your learning style to shake yourself out of your current groove.

Keep Your Long-Term Goals in Mind

Pause every half hour or so to remind yourself of the big picture. Think about why this topic and material are important to the larger world, why they’re interesting and exciting, and what this material means to you on a personal level. Keep your education and career goals close. You may even want to summarize them on a note and keep that note pinned to surface near you so you can see it whenever you look up.

In the meantime, get ready to add your pending education credentials to your increasingly impressive resume. Visit MyPerfectResume for a resume builder that can help you showcase what you’ve learned and make the most of those hard-earned letters you’ll soon be adding to your name.



Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a discovery call at my website,

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