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Adult Learner



This is how much intelligence it takes to entertain my baby. Clearly my brain is not in tip-top shape for school!  

This is the first time I have truly felt old.

When I started school we were warned that memorization and learning new things as an “adult learner” will be much more difficult than when we were young. I hate to say this, but I scoffed at them. I’ve always made good grades. I was the queen of cram in college and always ended up with at least a B, if not an A. I was great at sitting down the night before an shoveling knowledge into my brain. Surely it would not be that much more difficult.

Ha! Turns out, it is much more difficult. Not only is the subject matter far more complex than the stuff I crammed in college (I was a journalism major and filled my schedule with writing classes, which for me is the academic equivalent to eating cake all day, and 300 and 400 level “liberal arts” classes like Chaucer, the history of interior design and a full class on The Beatles.

Now, though, I’m entering personal training and am facing subject matter like skeletal anatomy, biomechanics and, currently, muscular anatomy. I’m not just learning how to label a diagram of muscles, either. I’m learning which muscles work together to horizontally adduct the shoulder joint. The amount of stuff to cram into my brain is daunting, and my brains ability to hold it all in for more than 30 minutes is shockingly different than when I was 18.

Thanks to being a full time stay at home mom, I’m already behind on my readings and studies. It is hard to find time to study when you are entertaining a baby. I try to study during naps, but a one hour interval hardly provides the time to scratch the surface. I’ve been waking up at 4:30 a.m. the past four mornings to study before Sabine wakes for the day and that still is not enough, not to mention I am exhausted! All this fussing to say that going back to school with a baby and no full time childcare, or a cleaning service, or a personal cook, is HARD work! My hat is off to Mamas who have completed advanced degrees when you were over 30 and taking care of new babies. I don’t know how you did it!

Any tips for the “adult learner” (lordy I hate that phrase. It really makes me feel old!!!) when it comes to memorizing anatomy stuff? My test is Saturday. Next week should be a little more relaxed and hopefully I can share a post on some of our small space organizing. Until them, cheer me on, send me smarts and help me pray that all this stuff will eventually STICK in my brain!



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  1. March 4, 2014

    I don’t think you should be too hard on yourself in regards to the adult learner stuff… it sounds like you’d still knock some Chaucer and Beatles Studies out of the park. Anatomy is just hard. It’s known in most medical programs to be the “weeding out” course… typically things get better after Anatomy! Good luck!

  2. March 4, 2014

    I have no advice. Sorry. But i subscribed to ur utube channel. (Mr.notes). How do u marinate tofu? I need good tofu recipes. I’m clueless. I saw sabine eating it in a video. So cute!

  3. March 4, 2014

    As a fellow adult learner who returned to school over a year ago – the best advice/solace I received was that it takes practice to get back in the groove and remind your brain how to learn again. I found this to be true. Much like a muscle – the more I exercised it – starting small (time-wise) and slowly working my way up – the easier it got. I also found that multi-media, which was not as readily available when I completed my first degree was, and is, my saving grace. You-tube videos, audio books, online quizzes, online lectures, Kahn academy, and all that fun stuff helped keep my now deficient attention and helped tremendously. Good luck. The video is precious.

  4. Shinara #
    March 4, 2014

    I tried learning another language while pregnant. Well that didn’t work…all I wanted to do was nest and make baby things in the middle of the night. (28 stuffed baby birds? …a mobile run amok…) I am now trying to run my plant care business while being a stay at home mom. My in-box is horrific. Trying to do computer work in 1-2 hours increments is hard. I found the best time to do computer work is in the evening because that is when he sleeps the longest between eating and my husband is home to care for him when he wakes.

  5. March 5, 2014

    Fellow adult learner, and Anatomy, Statistics, Chemistry, and Physiology student (took those classes 2-3 years ago, pre baby, but with a full time job which is still 1,000x easier than doing this with a baby). My hat is off to you, Belle. I barely eeked by with a B in Anatomy and Physio and was up all hours studying after work (a luxury, pre baby). Songs are a huge help for me when it comes to memorization. I would make up fun songs about all of the bones in the hands, or the digestive tract, etc.

  6. Romy #
    March 9, 2014

    The only way I was able to write my thesis with a preemie newborn who took 1,5 hour to feed (breastfeed, supplement, pump) every 3 hours, was by taking my son over to his grandparents and write there. They would do everything but the feeding which gave me 1,5 hours out of every 3 to write. It was still hard because I’ve always studied in spurts. It was quite the adjustment to have someone else dictate for me when I should be focussed and productive.
    Are you able to pay a babysitter to do this for you? Or can you do the majority of studying in the evening when the professor is home? Good luck!

  7. March 10, 2014

    Flashcards on my mobile device so I can study a little bit in every spare minute or five I get (nursing the baby, watching her eat, when she’s playing alone briefly, waiting rooms, etc), study buddies with the other non-traditional students, extending my time at school just a little bit so I arrive 15 minutes before class to review last class’s notes and staying 15 minutes after to review or read the book or whatever. Longer isn’t all bad either if you can get away with it. After 6 years of mom and student, I don’t know what else helps or is helpful beyond excellent childcare to give you time to study (and obviously recognize that you may not achieve those perfect grades ever again which is fine and life. At the end, the degree/certificate/whatever speaks for your qualifications rather than the grades). Good luck with it.

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