Returning to study at 24 and 7 tips that are helping me cope

booksI am excited. I have always wanted to learn creative writing. The English programme has a complete course on creative writing; I can learn how to write poetry, prose and stage plays. The reading list has Antigone, Waiting for Godot and The Odyssey (which I tried reading when I was younger, but gave up after a few pages). I have fellow students from China, Spain and Guyana. It was thrilling to meet them on the VLE and WhatsApp.

At the same time, I am worried. The number of texts on the reading list made me cry. I have to finish reading these by next March (hopefully). My entry to the second year is subject to the exam results. Lots of solitary reading can sometimes feel lonely, which won’t help either.

However, I am determined to finish in three years. And I’d love to get a first class. The reading, writing and note-taking ensures that my schedule is full and my brain is stimulated. It is a lot of hard work, more than I expected.

I have realized that I need to learn to cope. I can’t afford to burn out or lose hope midway.

The following are seven tips I am using to ensure my emotional and physical well-being, so I can focus on the things that matter.

1) Remember the why – I started my CertHE because I needed a degree in English to become a lecturer. Remember the reason why you started your Certificate, Diploma or Degree. At tough times, remind yourself of the reason.

2) Keep yourself accountable – I give a weekly report of my studies to a friend of mine. It helps me get through the weekly reading and made me realize that I don’t have to do it alone. Find a friend, family member or colleague who is supportive and report to them each Sunday!

3) Have a support group – I attend a monthly poetry reading and fortnightly Toastmasters meeting where I meet people who “get” what I do. Surround yourself with supportive people.

4) Keep records – I keep a log of the studies done on a daily basis which brings a sense of satisfaction to me. For someone else, it could be a diary or journal.

5) Exercise – I walk and do body weight exercises. Find what works for you. Do it daily, if possible.

6) Track what you eat – It’s very tempting for me to overeat or binge when the stress gets too much. Keeping a log of meals on my phone helps remind me that I should watch what I eat. If you struggle with the same issue, try doing it.

7) Don’t beat yourself up – Things can go wrong and they have for me so far. I tell myself that I’m only human and I don’t need to be perfect or learn everything at the first attempt. Be kind to yourself.

Take care of yourself while you take care of the studies and deadlines.

Kasun is studying the CertHE in English by distance learning in Sri Lanka.

4 thoughts on “Returning to study at 24 and 7 tips that are helping me cope

  1. i am also daunted by the extent of the reading lists. Beyond that i am supposed to understand them and use quotes in the exam. One module of the 3 i am taking in just the first year is so monumentally enormous that rather than cry i just laughed. I have no chance of even getting close but it doesn’t matter as i don’t need the degree. I am doing it for “fun”. Friends who years ago did their degrees, I am not young, tell me their first year was mainly spent in the students bar. How they got through i don’t know as i will need 10 years just to stand the remotest chance of answering 4 questions for the 1 module. That will mean a degree will take me roughly 90 years, even then i dont stand much chance of passing as i was looking at past questions and i dont even understand what they are asking me to do. I am lucky in that i have a good job, 9 years to retirement which i wont leave so i am doing the course part time, but i feel sorry for anyone feeling like me who really need their degree. I think i must be missing something. Like a brain perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

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