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How to get back on track when you have a break in your studies

by Sinead McDonnell

No matter how long you’ve been away from study, it’s never too late to get back into it. While returning to learning may seem a little daunting at first, conquering your fears is simple and easy with a few good tips and a little know-how!

With this in mind, below you will find 4 tips to help you get back on track after you’ve had a break.

Get organised

When it comes to balancing study and life commitments, organisation is the key. Getting into the habit of using a diary or planner to schedule in things like study, meetings, play dates for the kids or social events is an effective way to keep track of what you need to do.

There are also a great range of online organisation apps, like Things, Google Now and 24me, if paper and pen is not your thing.

It’s easy to lose focus when the demands start piling up and this is when we let things like our studies slide. Approaching your studies by as being organised as possible is a great way to stay on top of things, decrease stress and ensure you’re not constantly pushed for time.

Utilise support services

It’s understandable that you need a little extra help getting back on track – and contacting your online support service is a fantastic place to start. Your trainers, assessors and student support officers can work with you to answer any questions you may have.

If you’ve been away from study for quite some time you may be introduced to new concepts you don’t understand, a simple email to your trainer or assessor can answer your course questions and clear up any confusion. Alternatively you can make use of student forums to ask questions and gain insight and inspiration from other students.

Having difficulty managing your time or planning study sessions? Call to the learning support team, they’ll help you out with some key time management and study tools.

Whatever your needs are, getting in touch with these services can help minimise feelings of stress and make staying committed to your studies as easy and pain-free as possible.

Set realistic expectations

There’s nothing wrong with expecting a lot from yourself, in fact, this drive can actually help you to achieve your goals. It is important, however, to keep your goals realistic and achievable.

It’s only natural to want to give it your all and follow things through, but putting unnecessary amounts of pressure on yourself can be counter-productive to this. Being kind to yourself and allowing yourself time to get back into the swing of things is the best way to keep calm.

Try to judge yourself not by your results, but by the amount of effort you’re putting in.

Set up a functional workspace

Creating a functional work space is a must when you’re getting back into study again. Your environment has a direct affect on what you get out of your study time, so creating a space that is quiet, clean and distraction-free will help you to study effectively.

Look for an area of the house that gets a lot of natural light, invest in a supportive chair and purchase a desk with drawers or storage to help reduce clutter.

Personalising your study space with a poster or picture that motivates you, a desk plant or a photo may also help, as it ensures your study space is inviting and motivates you to spend more time there.

Returning to study can seem overwhelming, but with a little knowledge and support there’s no need to be afraid. Remember what you are working towards. Imagine how rewarding it will be when you finally take the plunge and get the qualifications you’ve always wanted!

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Ready to get back to it?

If you’re ready to get back into study, Open Colleges has over 100 flexible courses that could help you achieve your goals. Browse the course list here.

5 Responses

  1. Texas Williams says:

    This article has been a great help and has put me at ease. I have been contemplating furthering my studies but have been hesitant as I have two beautiful but crazy children who can be rather demanding, this makes tackling the daunting task seem more manageable. great article! I shall be in touch Open Colleges!

    • Sarah MacDiarmid says:

      Hi Texas, glad we’ve inspired you!

      We have many students who are full time Mums and happily balance home life with study! Here’s a student story about a ‘Supermum’ here: With us you can study online at any time and there are no deadlines, so study fits around your life, not your life around study.
      Here’s some information about the support we can offer you. All students of Open Colleges have access to a three-tiered support system. The first point of contact is our Student Support team. You can contact Student Support for any non-academic support, specifically when it comes to assisting with any administrative questions about your enrolment with Open Colleges or your OpenSpace (our online learning portal) account.
      The next support area is provided by our Learning Support team. Learning Support is an outbound service (appointment only) and focuses on helping students set out realistic and approachable study plans. As you progress through your course, they are available to help in areas such as study skills, academic writing and referencing, understanding assessment requirements and motivation.
      And lastly we have our trainers & assessors. For help with your assessments and course content you can contact your trainer via OpenSpace.

      To discuss any of our courses in detail call one of our friendly Enrolment Consultants on 1300 365 137 or click this link and we will get back to you.
      All the best, Sarah, Open Colleges team

  2. Jacquie says:

    Hi, I recently got a 6 month extension on my course as I’ve had a baby, however the laptop I was using to complete my course is no longer available to me.
    Is there a chance to have another extension? How do I complete the course without a laptop or computer?

    Looking forward to your reaponse.


    • Sarah MacDiarmid says:

      Hi Jacquie, thanks for getting in touch with your question.

      So we can assist you further it would be great if you could please contact us on 1300 650 011 or email We look forward to hearing from you.

      Thanks, Sarah, Open Colleges team

  3. Michelle Cooper says:

    Applied for an extension and have stalled in my motivation and now received a reminder that I only have 3 months left. I’m working full time and concerned I can’t complete my course in this timeframe. Can you recommend who or what may be able to help me in completing on time thanks michelle

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