This school year is definitely like no other. Like many of you, I am taking all my business school courses online from home. This was very different from the first four years of my experience at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business. Things that once seemed time-consuming, such as being involved in on-campus clubs, meeting up in person for classes and group projects, and even getting to and from campus, were actually what made my days more social and gave me a healthy routine.
If this is your first time studying from home, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when transitioning to a new learning environment online.
Despite this radical change, a successful school year is still possible, whether you are studying on campus or at home. From one student to another, here are my five top tips that will help you have the successful virtual school year that you deserve.
#1 Schedule Your Day
The biggest challenge many students are finding when transitioning to online schooling is the lack of a schedule in their day. Whether you have synchronous or asynchronous classes, there is definitely less structure in your day when lectures and seminars are all online. At the beginning of distance learning, I found that without a structured schedule, I became more easily distracted and took more time than necessary to do simple tasks that would have taken me less time to do in person.
So, I created a schedule of what I wanted to accomplish in a day, and it really helped with my productivity. I also started to feel less overwhelmed and a lot more organized and ready for my classes.
My tip would be to block off times in the day to work on tasks. For synchronous classes, block off any time that you are in lecture, and then schedule time for homework, readings, or assignments. Having a few one- to two-hour blocks during the day can help you realize the progress you have made, stay more productive, and avoid procrastination.
#2 Stay in Touch with Other Students
Whether you’re taking synchronous or asynchronous classes, remote learning can make it difficult to feel like you’re in a class at all, especially if you’re used to taking in-person classes. It can feel isolating when you’re working on assignments or studying for a test and not have peers to bounce off ideas with. For some, feeling isolated and not being able to see peers can make it difficult to focus on school and be successful in courses.
One way to feel more connected to the Brock community is to attend online events. For example, the Goodman School of Business has clubs and departments that offer various events to help students feel connected in the Brock and Goodman community.
I often check out CareerZone for the latest networking and career-focused events, such as presentations and guest panels. I follow Goodman clubs on social media to find out what events and programming they have on offer throughout the year, so I can connect with my fellow peers. ExperienceBU is another great resource to check out for more university club activities featured throughout the semester, like video game competitions or Netflix viewing parties.
#3 Stay Active
One of the biggest changes I have noticed since starting online classes is the amount of sitting I do in a day. When you’re at school in person, you move around a lot when going between different classes, commuting from your dorms, or simply just walking around on campus.
Distance learning from the comfort of your own home also means that everything from lectures to group meetings are all now at your desk, so there’s much less movement throughout the day.
Sitting for long periods of time can have negative effects on your body and can affect your focus as well as your mood. Students can also experience a higher possibility of developing poor mental health due to the body’s lack of blood flow and low Vitamin D levels as we stay inside all day.
My tip for staying active is to go for walks throughout the day. Before you begin class, go for a quick walk around your neighbourhood. Light exercising in the morning helps put you in a positive mood before studying, helps burn off some energy, and feels similar to leaving your house or dorm to get to school or walking between classes.
#4 Practice Self-Care
When you don’t need to leave the house to go to school, it can be very easy to forget some of the things in your old routine that allowed you to feel like you’re getting ready for the day. Simple things like cleaning your room and eating a healthy breakfast can help start you start your day on the right foot and feel ready for your tasks.
Self-care is different for everyone but remembering and making a conscious effort to take care of yourself and your well-being will contribute to a more focused and productive day.
#5 Contact Your Professors
During in-person school, you could usually ask your professor any questions you have about assignments or upcoming tests after class or during office hours. With remote learning, it can be more difficult to feel comfortable talking to faculty members about your coursework.
However, it is still very important to contact your professors if you have any questions about your work and the course material involved, or even if you simply just want to introduce yourself (which is also a great way to grow your network!).
Remember, your professors are there to help you and are welcome to questions whether virtual or in-person. If they do have virtual office hours, it is a good idea to try to attend them at several points throughout the semester, even if just to say hi! You can also reach them by email by visiting the online faculty directory. By contacting them sooner, you will be able to address any of your questions or concerns, and have a more successful semester as a result.
You Can Succeed as a Remote Learner
Remote learning can be a challenge, especially if you are transitioning from an in-person environment to remote learning online. But by implementing even just a few of these tips, you will be set up for a successful virtual school year ahead of you.
Have a great semester and remember to make the most of your university experience, no matter how you are learning!