By Cynthia Smith, PhD
Nowadays, returning to college is not limited to September and classes are not limited to traditional business hours. Women often manage numerous responsibilities beyond the job, including school.
Several key issues to consider might help ensure success:
Time cannot be managed, but how we choose to use our time can. The rigors of coursework in addition to the demands of work, family, recreation and other activities require a deliberate adjustment in how we choose to spend our time. An academic rule of thumb is to multiply the credit hours per class by three. Therefore, one standard, three-credit hour class will require an average of nine hours of study activity per week. Assess your routine activities with a calendar, such as drive time, household tasks, children's activities and job requirements. Where does coursework fit? Solicit assistance and cooperation from family members to juggle responsibilities.
What time of day are you at your best? Does reading at night before bed lull you into dreamland? If so, consider taking your textbook everywhere. Read a paragraph when you have a break in the action, while waiting in line, in a traffic jam, or in the bathroom. Be creative but be prepared. Divide reading into manageable chunks to increase retention.
"Completing assignments with excellence ensures high academic achievement," says Colleen Carmody-Payne of Keuka College. Make a weekly to-do list of assignments. Ask a classmate to become your accountability partner and ask another colleague to proofread your work.
Create a pleasant work environment in your home, but avoid distracting decorations. Keep it simple. Use one color to organize each of your subjects. Color coordination will help you grab the correct materials as you head out the door toward greater opportunity through educational pursuits and that next degree.
With the right strategies, you can successfully go back to school.
Smith is president of Facilitating Innovation. She heads the Rochester Women's Network's W Award committee and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.