This year has come with plenty of new challenges in uncharted territory. As we have all tried to adapt to a new way of life, it has been difficult to stay optimistic about everything. One of the most prominent challenges, as it effects a very large part of our population, has been tackling online school.
Whether you're in college, high school, middle or even elementary school-- if you were used to going to school in person prior to this year, it is likely that this new format took some adjusting. It's easier for some than others of course, and it has by no means been easy on the teachers either. Despite this challenge being presented and students clearly struggling, it's become apparent that some believe it is easier for students this way. While there are some benefits, there are a lot of struggles that are not acknowledged too. As we near the end of the semester for college students, and winter break for everyone else, grades seem to be on everyone's minds. Here are some reasons why you should remember not to be so hard on yourself.
It's totally normal not to have the same motivation you usually do when it comes to school. Your entire environment has changed. Your brain and body are used to resting at home, and doing work in a classroom. This new structure meshes the two, making it hard to focus on work at home and sometimes it can even hinder your ability to fall asleep. A great way to combat this is to, if you can, find a spot in your room other than your bed that you can do your work in. Finding a routine can help a lot. It might also be useful to check in with friends in similar situations and try to hold each other accountable. Creating to-do lists can help you keep track of everything you need to get done as well, and it gives you as sense of accomplishment as you finish those tasks.
As much as routines can help you get work done, they become tiresome and tedious pretty quickly. Waking up, logging into class, doing the same thing over and over again with no variation can be really bad for your mental health. Days blur together and you feel as though you aren't retaining information, you're just doing the work to get by. It's hard to find a way out of this one, but one way I try to combat this is by looking forward to small things everyday: a snack I really want, a show I'm excited to watch. If you can, switch up your routine a little when you're bored of it. Obviously you can't change when your classes are, but try going for a walk or grabbing a coffee in the afternoon to boost your energy and change the pace a little.
For some, stable WiFi isn't always a guarantee. It isn't always a guarantee that some have WiFi at all, which makes it very hard to complete school work and go to classes. Even if you are lucky enough to have WiFi, with so many people using it at once it can be slow or shut down without warning. This added stress and barrier makes it harder for students to do their work on time and to properly understand the material. Especially for college students, a lot of resources that were available on campus are not at home.
Outside of school, this year has given us more reasons than most to feel anxious and stressed. Between pandemics, family stress, the election, police brutality, and not even being able to see your friends--coping can be very hard. Schoolwork can't always be the priority when you're trying to keep it together, and it shouldn't be. Your mental health is the most important thing. School can wait. There will be other semesters in less chaotic environments. With everything going on, the additional stress from school can make it really hard to perform well academically. Take care of yourself first, always.
Paying attention in a classroom and staring a computer screen for hours on end are two very different things. Not only are they entirely different environments, the material and the class seems so far away. There are constant distractions around you. Staying engaged in the class all the time is extremely challenging, especially in lecture-based courses. This can be very frustrating.
Some of the ways I've tried to stay engaged during class is by having my camera on to hold myself accountable, taking notes even if I don't necessarily need to, and adding to the discussion. It can also be helpful to have a drink or snack nearby so you have something to do with your hands other than go on your phone.
You're not alone!
Remember, even if quarantine is making you feel isolated and like this experience is yours alone, it isn't! So many students are struggling right now. Reach out to your friends, to people on social media. There are lots of people going through the same exact thing you are. Talking about it and getting tips can be so helpful. A support system is the most important thing for success! That starts with yourself.
So, if you're worried about your grades right now or are disappointed you aren't performing as well as you wanted to, remember not to be too hard on yourself. These are times like no other, and we are all just doing our best to adapt. Take care of yourselves!