As the new school year begins, The Hub wants to help you excel in your classes and learn how to balance your studies in this COVID-19 world. Whether you’re learning online, in person, or in a hybrid situation, we have some great tips and pointers to help you alleviate some of the added stress that COVID-19 has brought. To do this we’ve created a 3-part mini-series to share with you over the next few weeks!
First up, online classes. School can be a struggle for anyone and adding a computer to the mix can make things even more confusing. Try and focus on these 5 key points to make the transition to virtual learning a bit easier.
1. Eliminate Distractions
In a typical classroom setting distractions are automatically limited for you; Phones are expected to be kept in pockets, televisions are turned off, desks are kept organized, and the room is generally kept quiet. It is important to keep this same mentality when learning at home. Find a place where you can focus solely on your schoolwork and keep your phone and other electronics on silent. Some people find it easier to focus when sitting up at a desk while others find themselves to be more productive when they are lounging on a couch. Some need complete silence to work efficiently, and others need background noise. If you’re someone who finds silence distracting, create that background noise with instrumental music, or work outside. Create the right environment to help you stay focused and thrive. No matter how you choose to work though, be sure to keep your area clean and organized. This will help eliminate extra distractions such as finding a pencil or keeping track of notes.
* Bonus Tip
If it is hard for you to pay attention and participate during a video lecture due to a wandering mind, find something for your hands to do. Coloring and doodling can be great options that will keep your hands busy while not completely pulling your focus from the lecture. Be sure your mind is still focused on what is being said though! Challenging yourself to ask and answer questions throughout a lecture will help with this.
Participation can be hard in person or online, but it is vital to your education. Whether your classes are based over video meetings or not, you can engage. During video meetings raise your hand and answer or ask a question occasionally. If you don’t have video meetings, use discussion boards to talk to classmates. If that isn’t available to you either, email your teacher. You can ask questions at any time about specific areas or simply to make sure that you’re on the right track. Just be sure not to isolate yourself from your peers or teacher as this can make it more difficult and stressful when completing the class.
3. Break Down Tasks
Looking at the mountain of required tasks and materials for a class can quickly become paralyzing. So, break it down. Make each task smaller so it doesn’t feel as though you are cramming a bunch of information all at once. It is easier to retain smaller amounts of information at a time than it is larger amounts, so take what you can and make them smaller tasks. Not only will it be easier to learn, but it will also make you feel more accomplished as you continue, which boosts morale.
How do you do this though? Start by looking at the big picture. Looking at tasks that are due at the beginning of each week is a great starting point. Complete any mandatory readings, powerpoints or presentations first as those will provide the information that you need for the actual assignments. Do these one at a time so you aren’t trying to focus on multiple things at once. Then write the assignments down in order of length. Those that will take you longer should be at the top of your list, shorter jobs should be towards the bottom of the list. Then complete them in that order. This way if you get half way through the week and you’re running behind, the longer and harder tasks are already done and you’ll only have shorter/easier things to focus on.
Want to take it a step further? Take each assignment and break it down. Then cross off each task as you go.
Need to write a paper? Break it into 4+ pieces.
1) Create your title/title page.
2) Write your introduction.
3) Create the body of your paper. Break it down into smaller sections if need be.
4) Write your conclusion.
5) Create your reference/works cited page.
Have a worksheet that needs completed? Complete one page at a time. Need to create a powerpoint? Figure out what slides are mandatory, and complete them in an order that makes sense to you. However you choose to break things down, make sure that it works for you, and don’t worry about how everyone else does it. Worry about you!
4. Manage Your Time
Time management is going to become a huge part of your life as an online student. The normal in person school schedule is broken up into sections; Classes are typically less than an hour, there are breaks in between each one, plus lunch, and some classes are considered more fun than others (band, gym, drama etc.), which makes the day feel as though it is going faster. As a virtual student though, you will oversee your own schedule.
You DO NOT have to work on schooling for the regular 7-8 hours 5 days a week! This will quickly cause burnout, and that’s not good for anybody. Instead, set aside a few hours (2-5) a day to focus on your studies, and try to keep these times consistent. If you continually work on your schooling at the same time every day it will become a routine, which will in turn make it much easier to focus on every day.
5. Take Breaks and Stay Healthy!
Along with your time management it is important to schedule breaks. It can quickly become overwhelming when focusing on one class for a long time so be sure to take an intermission and have a snack, spend 20 minutes on TikTok, or head outside for some fresh air. What you do is ultimately up to you, but make sure it is something that you can easily leave when it is time to get back to work. Taking a break every once in a while will help keep your mind active and healthy, which in turn will help you excel in your schooling.
Remember that almost everyone is going through similar struggles right now as it concerns with COVID-19 and education. Not everyone’s struggles will look the exact same, just as not everyone’s solutions will look the same. Find what works for you and run with it!
Have ideas for a future post? Interested in a certain topic? Send us your suggestions here!