How to succeed when studying part-time

Thinking of studying part-time? Juggling study, work and family commitments can be a challenge. Here’s how to overcome some common pitfalls.

1. The level of work seems overwhelming

When you look at a course in its entirety, it can seem like a lot of work. This can shake people’s confidence in their ability to complete the course, which in turn makes them more reluctant to work on it. “They convince themselves that there’s too much to do and it’s going to take too long,” says Paul Rogers, head of learning and innovation at MOL. “It seems like a massive, unknowable piece of work.” The trick is to be more specific in your goals. Instead of aiming to complete the course in however many months, aim to complete a chapter by next Tuesday.

2. The course drops down the priority list

This is the biggest challenge for part-time students. The best way to avoid getting caught in a cycle is to make a note of what you are prioritising over the course. What are you spending your time doing week to week?

“We all make time for things that we want to do, and we also make time for things that we perceive are quite easy and straightforward to do,” Paul says. “But, if it’s more challenging and long-term, it’s much more difficult to do that.”

3. Last-minute cramming

A 2012 study by UCLA found that the more a student crammed all of their studies into one night, the worse they performed. “Our results showed that extra time spent studying cut into sleep,” said Cari Gillen-O’Neel, first author on the study. “It’s this reduced sleep that accounts for the increase in academic problems after days of increased studying.”

4. Filling your textbooks with notes

Another study revealed that techniques such as highlighting points in textbooks actually did not help students learn what they needed to know. “Some research even indicates that highlighting can get in the way of learning, because it draws attention to individual facts,” journalist Annie Murphy Paul wrote in Time. “It may hamper the process of making connections and drawing inferences.” Instead, those studying at home are better off spending more time doing practice questions, which will help them apply their learning in a more realistic way.

Insights provided by Paul Rogers, MOL.

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AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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