Study Smarter: Tips for Balancing Homework and Real Life

The idea of having homework and getting report cards again can be intimidating. But don't worry - we've provided some helpful hints to put you on track for scholastic success.

Review the course expectations

At the beginning of each term or semester, your professor will provide you with a syllabus. This handy tool will give you an overview of what to expect as you work your way through the class. Many syllabi even include important deadlines or outlines of the content you will cover. Be sure to keep your syllabus and refer to it often. It can help you stay focused and remind you of the overall learning goals for the course.

Make a schedule

Add deadlines, the dates of tests and due dates for important assignments to your family and/or work calendars. That way, you'll be able to keep track of all of your commitments in one place, and better prepare for busy days or weeks. You may also want to block off time each week to study - so you'll be less likely to fall behind or push school work to the back burner.

Make lists

If you have a huge assignment, break the project into manageable steps or "pieces" and use to-do lists to identify individual tasks. Be sure to set deadlines for each item. Checking off items on your list will help you keep track of your progress, and provide encouragement as you move forward.

Create a Family Study Hall or Find a Study Buddy

If you're not the only student in your family, you may want to create a family "study hall." Clear room on the kitchen table and work on your homework while your kids do theirs. That way, you can provide each other with "moral support," and the subjects you are each exploring can provide great family conversation starters. Of course, your commitment to your studies will also set a great example for your children.

Don't have kids? Join a study group, or simply set aside time with your spouse or partner to learn together. You can tackle homework and class projects, and he or she can explore the internet, read a book or magazine or practice a hobby. If you prefer to study on your own, find a comfortable place and let your family know you need some quiet time to focus.

If you attend classes on campus, you may want to take advantage of study spaces available at the library or student center. Most schools also offer free tutoring, so ask your RBA coordinator if you'd like extra help in a particular class.

Study at work

Your employer may be willing to let you use your computer and office space in the evenings or outside of your regular work hours, so you can have a quiet and organized workspace to study.

Be sure to tell your employer about your decision to return to school, and explain how earning your degree will help you in your career. If he or she is supportive, you may be able to request an alternative work schedule during exam weeks. Remember to always be respectful, and, if you make special requests, notify your supervisor well in advance.

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