In the previous article of this 3-part series on further education, we helped you find out what kind of platform or institution you could study at, as well as your payment options. Now, we’ll look at ways to help you stay motivated and committed.
Further education tip 1: Manage your time
One of the biggest challenges you will face while studying is time management. Fortunately, there are ways to make the most out of the time you have available.
Create a timetable
Most courses have a timeline or module framework that sets out your assignment and exam dates. Get a calendar and circle all these important dates, and use a diary to create a detailed plan listing all your monthly assignments and exams. Remember to add any other commitments you have, such as family functions, and schedule time to study. Remember to put aside enough time to study well ahead of deadlines and to include extra time in case something unexpected happens.
Bonus tip: It’s difficult studying when you’re exhausted or unmotivated. Find a time that suits you and your schedule. If you are more alert in the evening, study then. If you prefer mornings, wake up earlier to study.
Watching TV or scrolling through social media steals valuable study time. Put your phone away before you study and switch the TV off to take away any possible distractions. Research has also shown that being online late at night could ruin your normal sleep patterns, meaning you could be tired the next day.
Schedule time for fun
No one can work and study all the time. Taking breaks helps you to stay motivated, so take time off (even just for 30 minutes a day) to read a book or magazine, cook, take a walk, exercise or talk with a friend.
Further education tip 2: Manage your stress
You will sometimes feel stressed and perhaps overwhelmed – don’t worry, this is normal. It’s important to deal with this stress so that you can continue to focus on your studies.
Talk to your family and friends
If you have serious study commitments, it can be hard for a friend, spouse, parent or child to understand. They may be resentful that you are less available to spend time with them or to help around the house. Have a conversation with close friends and family about your studies. Tell them that it’s temporary and that you really need their support and understanding.
Talk to your course supervisor
If you are struggling with any part of your course, feel overwhelmed, don’t understand a section of work or are struggling to meet deadlines, you should reach out to the person in charge of the course. They may be able to help you figure out solutions.
Talk to other students
Try to connect with other students in the same course. Being part of a support network can be helpful when you feel overwhelmed. You can share ideas and study tips and help one another stay motivated. Many online courses offer chat rooms and video conferencing platforms. If you attend classes, try to make some friends and suggest study dates to keep one another on track.
Bonus tip: Try and find a place like a public library or a friend’s home where you can work free of disruptions. This can help you stay focused and manage your time better.
Try to get enough sleep and exercise and to eat well when you’re under pressure; research has shown that exercise and sleep help your body and mind manage stress better. Also drink at least 8 glasses of water and eat a healthy portion of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Take a walk outside and get some fresh air, it will help clear your mind and help you to concentrate better.
Further education tip 3: Manage your money
Furthering your education is a big financial commitment, which means you need to have a solid payment plan. Remember to take into account expenses such as textbooks, food and travelling costs.
Have a money plan
Studies cost money and take time. Try not to spend money on unnecessary things while studying, such as the latest tech gadgets. Eat out less and be mindful of how much you spend on going out with friends. If you need to save money, you could buy second-hand course material and textbooks.
Bonus tip: Ask the institution where you plan to study whether you can pay off your fees in monthly instalments instead of in one lump sum to help you manage your money.
Use a savings plan to put money away to pay for the things you need, such as textbooks, transport or accommodation, a computer or tuition fees. You can earn up to 9.15% interest with a Capitec savings account. Having extra cash in a savings account can also help you in case of an emergency, such as your car needing to be fixed.
Take advantage of student discounts
Registered students who have a student card can get access to many discounts. Carry your student card with you when you’re shopping or visiting places. You often pay lower entry fees for museums and galleries and for other recreational activities. You may also pay less for travel. Many retailers, restaurants and bars also offer student discounts, so be sure to ask. You can also look online for student discounts in your area.
Action your big goals
Setting realistic annual goals is a great way to help build the life and career you want. The more practical and informed your approach, the more likely you are to achieve your dreams. We’d like to help you reach at least one goal this year, so we’ve created a 3-part series of handy checklists for 4 major financial goals. Whether you want to save for your education, plan a dream holiday or buy a car or buy a new home, we’ve got you covered.