Transitioning from in-person lectures and dorm living is tough for any college student, but being out-of-state, it's starting to feel like the challenges are stacking up against me. For starters: time change. I planned my class schedule around my ideals of California living: 75 degree, sunny afternoons that incline me to wake up for class early in order to enjoy the day later. Michigan, on the other hand, is...slightly...colder and overall unpleasant, topping off the the three hour time change.
If my first week of online classes was anything, it was a shock. But it indicated exactly where I was falling short: scheduling and time management. After evaluating my new lifestyle and adjusting accordingly, I have come up with some tips for all of my fellow out-of-state and international peers:
Converting my schedule from California time to Michigan time was the first step I took in organizing my school life. My class schedule online appeared in California time, so I wanted to rewrite my schedule in a planner in Michigan time. However, during the 12 hours from which I found out I was going home to when I left for the airport with one little suitcase, something crucial was left behind: my planner. Remaining calm, I thought I'd order a new one on Amazon.
Tip: a planner with a weekly and monthly layout is the most convenient when it comes to adding lecture times and keeping exam and homework deadlines straight. In addition, in the weekly section, it is extremely beneficial if the planner has hourly time slots (try searching weekly time slot planner, and do some digging).
After I spent way too much time trying to find the perfect planner, I finally found the one.
Until it said it would be delivered May 20th.
Solution: I printed out a weekly time slot calendar from Google images, and it did the job. Now that I finally had my weekly layout, I was able to draw in my lecture times in the correct time zone.
Another issue I encountered with scheduling is that not all my classes are still live lectures; some professors post videos for students to watch in their own time. This meant making another weekly planner in which I scheduled when I would watch the lectures as opposed to their initial designated times. For example, one of my classes was supposed to be on Wednesday mornings, but now my professor posts the lectures Monday mornings, and the work is due Sunday night. This means if I watch the lectures when they are posted, I'll have much more time to complete the assignments. Hence, I scheduled this class on Mondays in my second planner.
More general tips that I found useful were to email all my professors ahead of time and let them know about my time change in a respectful manner in case any issues arise down the line (for example one of my finals is from 6:30-9:30 pm, which is 9:30 pm-12:30 am my time. When emailing professors, make sure to be respectful of their situation and understand that they often cannot change something such as a final exam time to accommodate a small number of students. Simply making your professors aware of the late time gives them a better understanding of how outside factors may be affecting your grade.
Finally, I realized that there are advantages of my time difference. During original enrollment, there were many good classes that I wanted to take, but were at 8 am or conflicted with another class in my schedule. Now, a class at 8 am is actually 11 am for me, making it the perfect time. I was able to squeeze into many highly requested classes because I was the only one willing to take an 8 am discussion on Fridays. On top of that, several time conflicts can be avoided if one of the lectures is recorded and posted online.
This whole situation is a mess. It's not convenient for anyone, including teachers and students all over the world. My biggest word of advice is to stay organized and structured. If you end up with a class near midnight in your time zone, sleep in that day or take a nap to make the tough schedule a little easier. Make sure to look ahead of time and utilize a monthly planner printout to keep all long term deadlines straight.
You can do this! I believe in you.