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Portrait of lecturer Moliehi Thupa. Background of books, clocks and calendars.
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Staying committed to your studies can be hectic when studying as an adult. As an adult, you usually have other responsibilities that you may feel are more important than studying. For adults pursuing further studies, distance education can be perceived as the more convenient and practical choice. However, consider the following:

  • For many adults, this will be the first time continuing their studies since they left school.
  • Distance education is not the same as studying face-to-face in a physical classroom with a lecturer focussing on a specific subject.
  • Other than school, learning or going to class is not your primary concern of the day. Your job will probably be your primary focus.
  • Besides work, family and other commitments, you may have become used to a certain way of living. You are responsible for your own transport, taxes, making food, taking the kids to school, exercising and a myriad of other things that were probably not your responsibility when you were still in school.

This means that distance learning can present some challenges. But being aware of the challenges can help you prepare and plan around and through anything. Juggling academic commitments with the rest of everything adult requires a great deal of effort and self-directedness. The ability to study further through the option of distance education creates a fantastic opportunity for any willing and able adult.

Getting bitten by the study commitment bug

Having been there myself, I fully understand the pleasures and frustrations of embarking on the journey to study further through distance education. I completed my honours degree in business management some years ago. But, when I started, I was also still hunting for a job. The intention to further my studies through distance education was influenced by the realisation that I could easily continue hunting for jobs while my studies progressed.

It also dawned on me that I could even continue my studies when I started working! The convenience of not needing to relocate to be closer to my institution was simply the cherry on top. I eventually enjoyed distance education and my studies so much that I continued and also completed my Master’s degree.

Not an easy start

I will be honest; it was not easy at the beginning. My studies were all over the place while I tried to figure out what to do and when to do it. Having no study buddy made me feel all alone. In addition, the content of the study guides and the prescribed textbook was simply overwhelming.

However, I used these feelings as fuel to start with what I felt I could do. Bit by bit, I got hold of my studies. When the deadline for the first assignment approached, I had done what needed to be done. Passing the first assignment, my first small victory, gave me hope and courage to go on. I realised that the decision to study further was a commitment that I needed to incorporate and plan for in everyday life. As time progressed, allocating time for my academic work and preparing for exams became easier. This helped me stay committed to my studies.

How my studies prepped me for my work

Unbeknownst to me, my studies and my new habits also prepared me for the work I am doing now as a lecturer at BMT College. My work is an opportunity where I can use my personal experiences as a student to help others. Compared to what I experienced, we really go out of our way to assist our new students. Specifically at the beginning when everything can still feel all over the place. The Study for Success guide, the Induction Quiz, the Orientation Day and many other small procedures and practices are put in place to make our students’ experiences just so much better.

Our focus is to ensure that you never feel lost. Therefore, you can easily reach the administration and academic teams when you need help and be assured of a response within a working day. You can even schedule a one-on-one session with your lecturer, who can help you.

Here is some advice: attend the workshops, jump in on the Virtual Campus, and make sure to tune in on the Orientation Day. These College support structures are there for you to help you succeed in your studies. 

However, you will still need to commit to making time for your studies. Here are a couple of strategies you can implement to make the most of your time studying further as an adult.

Strategies to stay committed to your studies.

With the challenges that distance learning can present for adults, staying committed to your academic commitments can be tricky. But luckily, at BMT College, we understand this delicate balance because so many of my colleagues, myself included, have studied further through distance education.

Maintaining and staying committed to your studies requires discipline, willpower, tenacity, and self-control. In addition to these behavioural attributes, the following strategies may also come in handy to help you stay committed to your academic journey.

Create achievable study goals that are easy to commit to

The beginning of the academic year presents the perfect time and opportunity to set your academic goals. Just as goals play a significant role in the Business Management field and various workplace activities, goals are equally significant in the student’s life. Clear and achievable goals can help you map the direction of your academic endeavours.

The ultimate goal of a student is to finish their studies and get a qualification.

But what does it take to acquire this qualification? It involves a series of small goals.  From studying and understanding the subject content, passing the assignments and the academic years; to acing the final panel interview and walking across the graduation stage.

Setting realistic and achievable goals is a good starting point. Maintaining your academic commitments may call for breaking down one big goal into smaller, more manageable goals or tasks. As a student, these smaller tasks will collectively help you stay on track to pass the academic year. Bit by bit, the small chunks of achievable goals will ensure a gradual, steady progression towards the bigger goal of acquiring your qualification.

Commit to smaller study goals

There is a famous quote by Lee J. Colan: “All great things start as one small thing.”

It may appear to be simple and even obvious. But to achieve your goals, you must make an effort to start with the activities that lead to accomplishing those goals. Rushing to scan through study guides, prescribed reading, and other recommended activities a few hours before your summative assignment is due, is probably not a practical approach or “starting small.”

Rather, try to spend an hour or two a day on your studies. Start with reading through the subject content. Move on and complete the formative assignment well in advance. After all, you have several opportunities to complete the formatives at BMT College, and it helps you go through the study material. Gradually increase your study time if you have time available. As soon as the summative becomes available, go through the questions. Familiarise yourself with what is required. This incremental approach may be an effective strategy for covering course content, which will help you pass your assignments as the year progresses.

Develop the discipline of studying at a specific time every day. Eventually, the discipline will evolve into a habit.

Our Monday Motivation at the beginning of this week was something Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting on the first one.”

Starting small will help you get ahead in maintaining your academic commitments.

Devise a study plan that YOU can commit to.

You may be familiar with the saying that failure to plan is a plan to fail. Nothing is more true when it comes to your studies. Devise a realistic and concise plan that will serve as a roadmap to maintaining and achieving YOUR academic commitments. Use the study planner in the assignment schedule document to stay up to date with special dates, such as the submission of assignments. (The assignment schedules are available online and are sent to our students the moment they are registered. If you are a student and haven’t received this very important document, go to the Virtual Campus and download it now.)

With distance learning, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to ensure that everything is up to date. We will send you reminders and alerts, but you must still take responsibility for your studies. Make sure that you know when what assignment or task is due.

When you create a practical study plan that you can commit to, it may require that you make some sacrifices of your personal time. But be smart about those sacrifices. You may opt for minimising time stealers such as watching TV, scrolling on social media and gaming. Although these sacrifices may initially not be pleasant, your end goal should motivate you to stay committed to your academic commitments.

Adapt to changes in your study commitments

Setbacks and real-life distractions are a normal part of life. You can probably identify with the sentiments of the adage, “The only constant is change”. At times, you may feel that every effort you make to stay committed to your studies is being run over by a freight train.

However, when setbacks or distractions emerge, you can find ways to overcome them. Start by reviewing your initial plan to adjust for and adapt to new situations.

Often, we fail to maintain our commitments due to our inability to adapt to change. When you are faced with increased work or family demands, find ways to balance your academic commitments with the changes. Readjust your schedule, find study opportunities during other times in the day or take a weekend off to commit to your studies. Do what Arthur Ashe said, ” Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Do whatever you can to stay committed to your initial academic intentions. And remember, talk to your lecturer and tell them about your challenges. He or she may just be able to help you!

Tracking the progress of your study commitments

Tracking your academic progress is a simple and effective motivational tool that is often overlooked or dismissed. Seeing how much you have progressed in your studies can also let you know if you are still on track. Small but notable progress can serve as reassuring motivation when you can visibly see the fruits of your labour. Here’s a couple of readily available tools you can use to track your progress:

  • The initial study plan you have drawn up.
  • Take a normal diary and use it as a study diary. Make notes, mark important dates, and set up milestones. For example, by Friday, 8 March, “read through the first study guide” would be a milestone. Then, create daily tasks to read a couple of pages or chapters to reach that milestone.
  • The Assignment Due Dates document can be used as a benchmark against your study plan. Add milestones and checkpoints before the assignment due dates to ensure your time management lines up with the course requirements. If you miss a milestone or checkpoint, don’t panic! Adjust your plan to bring you back where you need to be.
  • Your academic performance is a very realistic way to reflect on your academic progress. Use your study diary to reflect on your results. Ask yourself if it is above or below your expectations. What could you do differently with the next assignment? What could stay the same? How can you improve?

The positive feedback you create through tracking your progress can help you stay motivated in maintaining your academic commitments. 

Reflecting and tracking your progress also helps you know when it is time to celebrate an achievement.

Celebrate the achievements of your study commitments.

Rewarding and celebrating even minor achievements can motivate you to stay committed to your academic work. Reading two paragraphs, especially on days when you absolutely do not want to study at all, can also be a cause for celebration!

Make sure to celebrate passing the formative assignments, the summative assignments and of course, that final integrated summative at the end of the academic year. You will be walking down BMT College’s graduation red carpet in no time.

Bonus: Get support to stay committed to your studies

The academic journey is supposed to be an awarding and fulfilling experience. However, if a student is not careful, studying can become a long, lonely and stressful haul.

As your studies progress, you may need encouragement from people other than your lecturer or the College personnel. This is where the support of your friends, study buddies, family and even your employer can play an important role. Surround yourself with people you can count on. If things get tough, your support system can help lighten the load.

Conclusion

With a little bit of effort, planning and support, staying committed to your studies is easy. This does not happen overnight or a couple of hours before an assignment is due! Be patient, consistent and disciplined to stay on your academic journey. Even if you get distracted or if your circumstances change, your adaptability, study plan and support systems should be in place. At times, It may take courage and commitment to press on. But if things get tough, it pays to remember that the sacrifices you make will be all worth it in the end.

On that final day, the day when you walk across the graduation stage, every commitment you have made towards your studies will be celebrated and acknowledged. So stay committed, keep going and never give up because success is waiting for you at the end of your academic journey!

Start your journey the right way, and join us on the Orientation Day for the 2024 first intake on 8 March 2024.

Sources of Inspiration

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2022/01/05/5-ways-to-keep-your-new-years-resolutions-based-new-research/?sh=28c407f0460d

https://books.google.co.za/books?hl=en&lr=&id=q80AEAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=new+year%27s+resolutions&ots=h8HBE2dXj5&sig=6F2S-Enq69VuFeb04Kybqi4vo88&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=new%20year’s%20resolutions&f=false

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-keep-your-new-years-resolutions-2795719

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