Saturday, February 8, 2014

Focus and Study Tips for Older Students

by A. Grano 
I spent some time catching up with an old friend the other day who is enrolled in a graduate program. While she’s enjoying it so far, she said at times some of the same motivation and concentration difficulties crop up that she experienced  during her undergraduate and even high school years, despite the fact that late-night parties are (mostly) a thing of the past.
It no doubt can be a challenge to transition back into the “study mode”, whether it means going back to school after an extended hiatus, or even after a long vacation.
While the causes vary from person to person, many of the same reasons behind these challenges are faced by students of all ages.
Physical factors for concentration problems may include:
  • Unbalanced diet and/or hunger
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Medications, alcohol or drug abuse
Psychological factors for concentration problems may include:
  • Boredom
  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Emotional burnout
  • Lack of motivation
Environmental factors for concentration problems may include:
  • Noise
  • Electronics: television, telephone, internet, email
  • Poor lighting
  • Temperature
It’s important to pinpoint the main distracting elements from your study routine. Often times, it is a combination of several different factors. While you may not be able to control all of the problems, you can likely eliminate quite a few.
Adult students are more likely to encounter psychological influences, such as financial worries or guilt about other tasks they ‘should’ be doing, which can have an impact on memory. Many adult students also hold full-time jobs, adding to stress levels.  Regular exercise, healthy diet, and sufficient sleep are all very important to enhance brain functioning, and should be the first components to consider when evaluating  potential problem areas.
In addition, consider the following:
  • Adhere to a routine study schedule as much as possible.
  • Take study breaks. Even 5 minutes spent walking around, stretching, or having a snack can help perk you up.
  • Help avoid daydreaming by practicing ‘active’ studying. Quiz yourself after reading a chapter by asking yourself questions about the material or make flashcards (they’re not just for kids!) to help retain difficult facts and information.
  • Review your notes often. Rather than cramming for hours before an exam, spend a few minutes each day reviewing the previous lecture’s notes. The night prior to a test, skim over all your notes and be sure to get a good night’s rest.
  • It seems obvious, but study in a quiet environment! It may be more ‘convenient’ to study at home, but if uncontrollable noise levels are detrimental to your studying, take the extra time to go to a quiet place to make your time spent more productive.
  • Try natural remedies. To improve concentration and memory, Centella asiatica can help to support mental focus and ‘clear the cobwebs’.
Focus ADDult™ Promotes concentration, focus and attention span in teens and adults