Getting back into study after a long break is difficult. There’s no point in denying it. It will be hard to get back into the swing of things again. However, trust me, it can be done. And it can be done quite well. In this post, we are going to look at how to start studying after a long gap.
But first, let me take this opportunity to congratulate you on beginning this new journey. On taking the opportunity to advance your education and make that career change or whatever it is you are exploring. This post will help you settle back into studying once again so that you can master your new endeavors and really succeed to the best of your abilities.
How to start studying after a long gap?
Studying after a long break away can be a tricky one to get into. The key to success is a mixture of establishing a routine, finding the motivation and balancing work/study life. If you haven’t picked or started your course just yet, why not start with a shorter course. This can boost your confidence and get you back into the swing of things again.
If you have started your course that’s ok too. Just use the tips below and it won’t be long until you have mastered how to effectively study again, and any fears that you may have had will be a thing of the past.
Tips on how to start studying after a long gap
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of getting back into the swing of studying again is establishing a routine. Sound simple. It can be. But it can also pose a challenge for those who have been away from the study life for quite some time. Our minds become used to what we do each and every day. It hasn’t studied in quite some time so it’s not gonna want to now. without some effort. And this is where establishing a routine comes in. Here we are training our mind to get back into studying again.
2) Be disciplined
Following on from the above point is to be disciplined. We have to train ourselves to study once again. Just like you trained yourself to do the tasks you do each and every day now, no matter how big or small, you did it. And likewise, you can do it again with studying.
The biggest obstacle to this is your discipline. You need to show up. Set your routine and STICK TO IT. Especially at the start. The very first day that you say you are going to study, just do it. It will be hard. You are most likely not gonna want to do it. Heck, I didn’t but you just have to show up.
Once you show up a few times, you’ll establish a routine and it will become something that who just do. It’s part of your life.
Now to help with the routine and discipline comes motivation. If you find your motivation you are onto a sure winner here. Your motivation to complete this new course that you are doing will make everything else so so much easier.
Find out exactly why YOU want to complete this course. Is it to advance your career? Do you want to move up to a managerial level in your firm or earn more money? Do you want to have a degree or masters? Do you just want to learn something new because you enjoy learning?
Whatever the reason, no matter how big or small. It’s your reason. A reason that’s important to you. For example, maybe you’re pursuing this new education course because you want to switch jobs and earn more money so you can send your kids to a good school. Give them the life you never had. Whatever the reason it has to part a need or want in you and only you.
This need or want will motivate you to study and do your best. And on those days when you just do not want to study. It will help you show up and stick to your routine. Need some help. Read our “how to study when you have no motivation” post.
While sticking to your routine and being disciplined is important. So too is maintaining a balance. Finding the perfect combination of time studying, working and of course, some much-needed downtime.
The last thing you want is to get burnt out. Working and studying at the same time is difficult. Multitasking and time-management skills are going to become quite useful. Not too mention family life. A lot of people who decide to advance their education later in life have family commitments as well. Establishing your routine needs to take this into account.
5) Make a study calendar
What is very useful here is making a study calendar. You can start planning this as soon as you begin your course. Look at your class timetable and your course outline. Then use this to establish your routine a study calendar.
A study plan is extremely useful. It will help keep you organized and on top of your study. It will also help relieve and reduce any anxiety you are undoubtedly going to experience at some stage in your studies.
Study plans help you prepare and plan what needs to be done and when. It allows you to allocate your time wisely and when you need to dedicate more time to certain subjects and when you can ease off and spend some quality time with your family and friends. Because this is very much important too.
6) Don’t take on too much
It’s most likely at the start that you will be super motivated. Especially when you know WHY you want to complete the course. However, be careful not to take on too much.
This applies to outside your college course, as much as in the course itself. When starting your new study routine after a long break it’s important not to overburden yourself. Start small. Don’t overdo it. The brain can only take in so much. So in the beginning, it’s important to respect that.
To get around this, be sure to schedule in plenty of breaks in your study plan. Study for 40 minutes then take 15 or whatever works for you. Schedule some reading only sessions, somewhere you focus on just glancing over some material you already know quite well, then when your feeling more use to it take on some of the more challenging course work.
Remember, some days will be harder than others. This is perfectly normal. Some days you are just going to want to sit down with the kids and watch tv. This happens. It’s ok. Sometimes we just have to study and not like it. Especially at the start when learning how to start studying after a long gap. It will and does become our new norm and gets easier.
7) Get in the right study environment
Establishing the right study environment for you is important. Whether this is at home or your local or college library is up to you. Some prefer the library environment others like being at home where they are surrounded by their own amenities and a familiar with it.
What’s important is that it’s free from distractions. And that it is somewhere that you can come to easily and begin your study sessions as planned quite easily. Check out our “How to study effectively at home” post to get some tips on how you should go about setting up the ideal study environment in your house.
8) Eat right
You might not think it but what we eat plays a big part in how we feel and our ability to study effectively. It’s important that we get all the nutrients our body needs daily to perform well.
What we want is to be able to maintain energy levels so that we can study for long periods especially close to exam time. What we eat can have a huge effect on our energy levels. The last thing we want is to hit a slump while trying to study for an exam.
It’s of no real surprise that eating a healthy balanced diet is key to maintaining good energy levels throughout the day. But it is better to consume smaller meals throughout the day rather than 3 large meals. This is of course to maintain the best energy levels, and avoid the feeling of being too full and tired after a huge meal.
What’s more interesting is the foods that we can eat to boost our brain’s ability to learn. Without going too much into in this post, things like blueberries, nuts, fish and cherries are all great brain foods. To find out more check our post on “What is the best food for your brain?”
9) Acknowledge that it’s going to be hard
This may sound a little silly, but I still think it needs to be said. Acknowledge that it’s going to be hard. Don’t resist it. There’s no point.
Going from not studying in maybe 5 years, perhaps in some cases 10 years or more is going to be hard. It’s going to be an upset to the system. No matter how super excited you are to do your course. There will be a point when you just don’t want to do it. Or do want to study.
However, instead of fighting these feelings, why not accept them. It’s ok. You know why your feeling this way. Your body is getting used to a change. A big change. For a lot of people, you are now balancing work, study and family life. It’s ok, especially at the start, not to like the study part.
This does not mean that you don’t like your course or don’t actually want to do it. If you struggle with these thoughts just remember your WHY. Very few people actually like the study part. What makes it worse is resisting the study part. And unfortunately, for those of us who are mature students, it can be a hell of a lot easier for us to just walk away. After all, there’s no mammy or daddy paying for us to be there. And this sometimes can make it easier to stick to it.
But on the other hand, that WHY is often more powerful for us. We know why we are doing it so when those negative study feelings arise, hopefully not often, we can use that WHY to keep them at bay.
10) Tell your family and friends
It’s a good idea to inform your close friends and family members that you’re taking a new course. This can help in a few ways. One it can be great for some moral support. They can boost you on when the going gets tough.
Secondly, it can be a motivation for you. Once you tell people it means you are serious about your new undertaking. It can help you show up and out in the work because there’s a sense of accountability. Your friends and family are going to want to see you succeed. As a result there probably going to ask how it’s going every time you see them. This can give you the push to stick with your study plan even when you don’t want to.
Thirdly, you have some people around you that you can talk to when you need to. If things are becoming a bit overwhelming, especially close to exams, they can offer support and help. From babysitting the kids to a shoulder to cry on, it’s nice to have a support network.
Fourthly, good friends and family will respect your new endeavor. Knowing how important it is to you they will understand why you are not available as much as you use to be due to your coursework.
11) Use your time wisely
I’m sure at this stage of your life between work and other family commitments you’ve already mastered the art of using your time in the most efficient way possible. But still, it’s worth a mention here again. Because every little helps so where we can gain an extra minute or 2 we will take it.
To master time management look at where you can save some time. Use this time to do some course work, prep for studying or upcoming assignments. When cooking and caught for time whip up some quick healthy meals. Cooking for the whole family why not use things like a slow cooker. Check out some of our healthy go-to student meals pack with foods that will help when you are studying. Or our list of “32 foods to eat while studying” that will help boost your focus and concentration.
All of these savings can provide you with a significant amount of extra time to put towards your course work. Or even some downtime. Because that is just as important too.
12) Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This applies both to your family and friends as well as your course leaders and other students.
With regards, your family and friends take the time to ask them to respect what you’re doing. And of course, they will. Don’t be afraid to ask them to give you the space to study and do your course work. Maybe your partner won’t mind swapping school run while you get some studying done or prepare the family dinner so you can complete an important assignment.
Work might leave you to finish early on Fridays if you come in early. These or just ideas. But in my experience people can be extremely supportive and provide a lot of help when you need them. All it takes its just a matter of asking. So do not be afraid to ask for some help if you need it.
In your course, there is going to be a course leader. Whether you physically attend college, or do a blended learning course or even if your course is completely online there is always someone assigned to be a course leader. This is the person you can ask any of your questions. Just send them an email. Even specific lecturers will provide you with their email so you can contact them if you need to.
Most courses also have a student forum. This can be quite useful. Here you will normally find a mix of new and past students. You can ask them questions and the course or any topics you find difficult. Other students typically like helping out other students. Particularly if it’s something they also found hard.
What’s more, here your going to find students who are quite similar to you. According to UCAS, there has been a significant increase in the number of mature students returning to education in 2020. Therefore, there will be those who are also asking how to start studying after a long gap. This is the perfect place to surround yourself with like-minded people. They can help you stay on track, help with any problems and hold you accountable. And because a lot of them will be in a similar boat to you they will be able to provide even more tips on how to get back into studying again after a long break.
So there you go, these are our tips on how to start studying after a long gap. It may seem hard now but it can be done. And it will be done. Use these tips and you will be back into the routine of studying in no time.