Social distancing and COVID-19 has no doubt influenced your education and school life a great deal. If you're an engaged and motivated student already, you may be wondering how to best deal with these changes and still keep your grades up.
Perhaps, the added accessibility has given you a brand new motivation to truly dive into your academic life for the first time. Whatever the case may be, 2020 has changed the game of education in challenging and enriching ways.
If you're in the midst of your online college classes, there are a few new realities you may have to prepare for. When you pay a little extra mind to these things, you can learn to better adjust for them in your educational life.
1. Webcam Fatigue
When you're sitting in digital classes for long periods, it can begin to cause more fatigue — or at least a different kind — than being in classrooms all day. This is often called webcam fatigue, and it can be exasperated by staring at others' webcams as well as your own face. In a typical classroom setting, you can look around and have your own space.
Know that it's OK to turn off your webcam if it helps you learn best. Talk with your professor about this if it's impacting your learning — they may just relate. Plus, they want you to succeed.
2. Extra Work
Some professors have taken the extra time available to assign more work to their students to make up for the lack of in-person interaction and physical projects. However, these things often take more energy than discussion-based work. It's important to remember that while you should always try your best, you should know your limits and communicate about issues if you have them.
3. More Independence
If you tend to learn best in an independent setting, distance learning could actually be a great asset. While virtual classes are still a point of convening, much of the workload has moved into a more solitary space where you can move at your own speed. This also increases a sense of personal responsibility, as you'll be held accountable for your assignments.
The lack of physical classes also allows you the freedom to cut out the time spent in transitions. You should show up to your virtual courses a few minutes early prepared and ready to learn, but you can spend your time in an optimal study environment for you, whatever that may be.
While many online classes meet daily, some are weekly or just a few times a week. Even if you have regular, daily online courses, the time you spend will likely be shorter than that of a traditional school week of in-person learning.
This frees up time and energy to learn and study your own way and devote yourself to activities, hobbies and self-care that can help you become a more well-rounded person.
Learning isn't just about being in class. It's also important to care for yourself and do things you enjoy, and online school can help free up more space for that.
5. Intentional Social Time
When you don't see your friends on campus, you may feel like something is missing. Even extracurricular activities, like clubs, have been moved online, which can limit the social element of school. It's important to be intentional about connecting with friends and not losing touch so you can all have healthy social lives, even from home.
6. The Tech Divide
While many teachers and professors happen to be tech-savvy, that was never a requirement of the job before this year, and many are still in the learning process. Technology isn't always the most reliable on its own, and many professors are still getting their footing.
It's important to be patient and understanding with them, just like they are with you. What they want most is for you to learn and succeed. You can even offer help if they need it.
When you're learning in a space that's your own, you have an opportunity to create an environment that works best for your learning style. When you're comfortable, you'll absorb more information and focus better, which will help your long-term academic performance.
If you like background noise or music, you can play some. If you study best with a cup of tea, you can have one on hand. If you want to be cozy in bed, that's totally up to you.
8. Creative Projects
You may notice that your professors have to assign things a bit differently from years past. While this may cause a bit of unfamiliarity, it can also be a great incentive to think outside the box. Use your newfound digital space to enrich your assignments and get creative.