This school year has been like no other, and for students who are struggling to adjust to online learning, maintaining good grades and a school/life balance can feel impossible. So for all those who are looking to improve the quality of their work, or simply regain a sense of normalcy through remote learning, here are the tips I’ve learned from my past year learning from home.
1) Keep your Canvas calendar and ALL of your email accounts open at all times.
School is hard enough when you know what’s going on, but if you forget to check your schedule and miss an assignment or an announcement, you’ll create unnecessary stress for yourself. Having your emails and calendar open guarantee that you won’t miss a deadline, and you’ll be able to rest easier at night without being jolted awake by a last-minute memory of a project due at midnight.
2) Keep a planner.
This is a basic tip and probably one you’ve heard before, but a planner really will help you and it’ll prepare you for life outside of quarantine too! A planner doesn’t have to be expensive and you can even use a plain notebook and fill in dates to make your own. In your planner, make sure to fill in due dates for assignments and projects, exam dates, class times, and even non-school-related stuff, so that you never miss a beat.
3) Have a work space.
One of the biggest struggles in quarantine, especially if your family is also working from home, is finding a space to work. I chose my bedroom to have some privacy for Zoom meetings. On one hand, it can be difficult to work in my room, where there are distractions, but on the other hand, there aren’t many other choices. I keep a desk in my room that faces away from my bed so that while I’m working, I’m not tempted to get in bed and sleep. If you don’t have a desk, it’s worth it to try and save for one, or, if you don’t have the money or space, you could always take headphones with you and work in another room or possibly even outside if the weather permits.
4) Keep normal hours and schedule breaks.
When you’re working remotely it can be easy to skip Zoom lectures, sleep in until the afternoon, and go to bed super late. But once you start skipping classes, the habit becomes harder to break. Also, working while it’s light out can be good motivation for many (not everyone), so try waking up by 8 or 9 a.m. every day. If you don’t start working until 3 p.m., it’s good for your body and mind to get some sunlight.
On top of maintaining normal hours, it’s important to take a break every now and then as well. This can be stopping to eat lunch or dinner, going for a walk, spending time with family or friends (in your bubble of course), or even just watching a YouTube video. It’s unhealthy to spend all of your time working, and when you’re inside all of the time, it’s easy to forget to stop. A few hours each day of ‘me-time’ will restore you for your studies and keep you from burnout.
5) Use online resources.
IU has a wide array of digital databases for your benefit. Also, professors will typically offer online office hours. Find out when these take place and use them to your advantage in classes where you feel confused or behind with the material. Additionally, online resources that may be helpful to incoming freshmen are the many mentoring programs at IU. There are school-wide programs like FASE, MAP, FAB, or FMI, and countless other programs like Kelley-to-Kelley or IU OEM mentors. While you won’t need advice on the best restaurants and cafes in Bloomington if you’re off campus, mentors can still help you deal with difficult professors, find clubs, and offer countless other information that will help you have the best possible freshman year experience.
All of these tips combined should help you make remote learning as easy as possible. No matter what, this last year has been a weird one, and no one should expect you, nor should you expect yourself to be on your A-game. But, if you implement the tips above, you can make this school year so much easier for yourself. So remember to breathe, buy a planner, and know you’ll kill this next semester and all those to come!