Success and the Night Course

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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Just signing up to a night course isn t enough – find out how to make your return to learning an unrivalled success

Night courses fall into two main categories leisure courses and those designed to enhance your career. The former category is the traditional core of the night course industry and it has expanded dramatically in recent years. Learning to arrange geraniums or ice sponge cakes are no longer the sole options modern students can choose from subjects as rarefied as they are.

But when you are taking a night course for pleasure, it can be all too easy to let things slide. The call of the takeaway or the charms of the Desperate Housewives can insidiously weaken the resolve even those who have forked out the price of a sun holiday for the privilege of attending may find themselves missing classes. However, there are ways to resist the lure of the sofa

First things first choose something that you are really interested in. You might think that a class called Camus and You sounds impressive, but if you aret personally fascinated, then your chances of enjoying it are slim.

You also need to look at issues such as location and timetabling. It is less likely that you will make it to class if you have to make two bus journeys or if you are scheduled to pick the kids up from swimming five minutes after it finishes. The thought of your children shivering in togs on the side of the Howth Road is enough to make any parent throw down the macram needle. Make things easy on yourself; take a class that is both close to home and on at a time that suits you.

The same rules apply to those who are taking a course to advance their career, although naturally the subject you choose will be heavily influenced by the direction you want your career to take. But before you decide on a class, do your research; find out from employers/professional bodies what courses/qualifications are best suited to your career path.

Once you have narrowed your choices down, identify suitable course providers and start investigating. Talk to lecturers, and if possible, current students to get a well rounded picture of what you are signing up to. Find out the answers to questions such as:

If you are studying towards a qualification, who is the awarding body
Is the award based on continual assessment, a final exam, or both
Will you have to pay extra for exam fees
What kinds of supports are available to evening students

When term begins, invest time in developing a network of friends in your class/around campus. Besides the obvious social aspect, your affability will give you access to people who may be willing to share their notes, discuss lectures or even form a study group.

As adult learners often have pressing commitments outside the classroom, putting aside time for studying is vital. It is often useful to make a timetable in which you list all your important obligations. Once you have done this, then you can slot in times in which you will be free to study. You should also consider using your time in new ways. If you feel that there just aren t enough hours in the day to get a good run at things, then why not use the time that you usually spend staring blankly ahead to revise

For example, if you get the bus to and from work, then you could have over two hours of quality studying time available to you. Obviously, woodwork and mechanical drawing are out, unless your bus driver personally gets down on his hands and knees to smooth out every pothole, but what better place to study text-based subjects such as history and literature

As your class progresses, then you will be better able to construct a study plan detailing what you need to revise. If you have a fairly hefty course load, then breaking it up in manageable chunks is vital. Stress can be beaten with organisation. If you map out, even roughly, what you hope to achieve week by week, and stick to your plan, then you will find yourself much better prepared when exam time rolls around.

Taking a night course doesn t mean revisiting a world of inky copybook and rapped knuckles. It can allow you to discover more about a subject that has always fascinated you, or to take your career in a whole new direction. Of course, committing to a course can mean rearranging your schedule or missing out on a few pints down your local, but most people find that making a return to the classroom is well worth the effort

Frank Bolger

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