3 Tips for Adult Learners Back in School

As we enter October at the University of Southern Indiana, some of us may now be looking at our course work and wondering how we will get out of our mountain of assignments. This struggle, while normal, can be an extra hassle for our many adult learners this semester. Many people are learning to work online at home in addition to learning online. Sometimes this even means being a teacher themselves to any children in the home who have online coursework.  

Coupling our 2020 struggles with many adults having a lapse between now and the last time they attended school, it can be a challenge getting back into the study habits previously builtThe Online Learning department at USI is always focused on helping our adult learners be able to have access to the tools they need to make the most of their online education on their own time. 

If you're seeking an online degree from USI but not enrolled yet, be sure to look through our online programs here, and keep reading below for our top 3 tips for adult learners back in school.   


Succeeding in your education means setting boundaries with friends, family, and yourself, both physically and mentally. We have different rooms in our homes for specific purposes. We don’t typically shower in the kitchen or do our dishes on the couch, so why would we work or study in places that won’t help achieve those goals? Setting up these distinct areas inside your home for working and studying will help you keep those mindsets and focus on the projects and assignments you need to complete. Make sure anybody else in the household respects these areas while working online (bonus: it’s easier to recall information in the same area you initially learned it!). 

Perhaps the more complicated part of learning to transition to an online environment is how to mentally set boundaries. A healthy work-school-home life balance is crucial for not feeling fatigued. Block out specific hours on your calendar each day for different activities. Don’t let your work email interrupt your schoolwork after hours, or don’t let another household member interrupt for long periods of time, taking you away from your studies. 


A large gap in time for education may mean that note-taking for an online course may now be unfamiliar. The best course of action is to figure out what your strengths are. If you can type over 100 words a minute, pulling up your computer’s built-in note-taking app might mean less pauses on a video you’re watching. Do you tend to always carry pen and paper for things throughout the day? Stick with what you know. Handwritten notes have the advantage of sticking with you, since you're processing the information as you write short-hand, instead of typing verbatim 

Whichever method you choose, be sure to stay organized in how you’re recording notes. Organize them by semester, class, date, and specific lecture subject at the top so you can easily retrieve the information later. Furthermore, take down bullet points and mark headers when there is a specific change in subject. 


Asking questions of your professor or advisor is the quickest ways to get answers. With many adults attending school in an online format, convenient conversations can often be held through a simple email correspondence. At USI, our quality faculty stand by you every step of the way. Our online courses have a set of expert instructional designers backing them to ensure you’re getting the best possible education online. 

In addition to faculty, each college or university typically provides a myriad of resources for students to utilize, and you should make yourself aware of them when deciding on programs or universities to attend. USI provides online access to many services such as our David L. Rice Library, registration, IT support, and so much more. Check out Online Learning's Student Services Page to see everything available to our students.