Boston University's fall 2020 plans feature a Learn from Anywhere (LfA) system, which enables students to take classes in-person, remotely, or in a combination of the two. Based on class sizes and professors, however, most students find themselves learning remotely. And despite having already done this in March (remember that?), students would hardly call themselves experts at online/hybrid learning. There can be so many factors at play—Zoom, Blackboard, pre-recorded lectures, Kaltura, online discussion forums, and more. So, here are some tips to help you flourish this semester.
- Write in a planner/agenda.
Have you seen that joke about how the most useless purchase of 2020 is a planner? It's funny, but it's not true when it comes to your academic life (RIP all our social lives). While everything may be coming to us this semester via a laptop screen, it's still really easy to get lost and caught up in all of it. I personally swear by my Ted Baker planner, which is undated. Not only does writing in it calm me down, but it's also a great canvas for my scribbled to-do lists and random reminders.
- Utilize calendars.
Another way to stay organized is by using a calendar. I used to obsess over my Google Calendar (now I've switched to Outlook, primarily because the pastel colors are easier on the eyes). While I have dates in Blackboard, my work schedule in Sling, and club/extracurricular notes in different group chats, I love getting that big picture view of all my commitments, which also lets me double-check that I haven't accidentally double-booked myself. And while I usually opt for a digital calendar, a physical one is great too—whether it's your first monthly bujo spread or a huge desk calendar.
- Reach out to professors.
Office hours are still a thing! Professors are still eager to get to know you! While it may be a lot harder now to stick around after class to ask a question, professors' inboxes and Zoom office hour links are wide open! Reaching out to professors is a great way to make a good impression, set yourself up for success, and get some help and advice if you've fallen behind.
- Try out a productivity app.
If we're going to have to turn to online venues for classes, clubs, and hanging out with friends, we might as well dig into some online apps for studying too. I'm a big fan of Focus Keeper, which uses the Pomodoro method of timing (25 minutes of work, followed by a 5-minute break, and then a longer break after multiple 25-minute sessions), and Forest, which plants a little virtual tree for every chunk of time you spend off your phone.
- Practice self-care.
Remember to unplug and recharge yourself! Take breaks! I know that with everything being online, I'm increasingly available now. Even when I'm in class, I can see my emails come in, and it can be hard to draw boundaries. Taking care of yourself is more important now than ever. If you live with family or roommates, schedule some time to play a game with them or just watch a movie. If you're online, do things for yourself to de-stress, whether that's lighting a candle or calling a friend. BU also offers Headspace (a meditation app) for free—so again, technology can offer some great resources in this department too.
- Attend a workshop or one-on-one advising.
BU's Educational Resource Center offers so many online workshops designed to help you thrive as a student, ranging from how to adjust to Learn from Anywhere, how to study smarter and not harder, and how to manage your time more effectively. For a more tailored-to-you approach, you can also schedule academic advising appointments, where you and a trained staff member can discuss your academic needs and how to best meet them. Also, did I mention everything is free? Visit http://www.bu.edu/erc/ for more information and resources.