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Last semester was certainly a whirlwind experience for students as they made a swift transition from in-person learning to being taught remotely due to COVID-19. For me, this semester is not very different as all of my classes remain online due to the fact that we are still in the midst of the pandemic; however, after experiencing a taste of virtual learning last semester, I feel better prepared going into this semester. Here are some of my tips for success for those also resuming classes online (some may even be handy for in-person learning) this semester.

Dedicate a Space To Complete Schoolwork

I often found myself becoming distracted by my surroundings at home. As I was supposed to be watching lecture videos or participating in discussions with my peers, I was itching to turn on the TV right in front of me or begin playing Animal Crossing. I suppose this isn’t as different as being distracted by your laptop or phone when you’re physically in class, but all of these additional distractions can lead you to being less productive.

I would suggest dedicating a specific area in your home away from these added distractions to solely be your “classroom” or “library.” Decorate it so that you are motivated to study, attend your lectures, etc., but keep it so you are more likely to be doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

Use a Calendar to Manage Your Time And Develop a Routine

I had never used Google Calendar prior to last semester as I was always a weekly planner kind of girl. I would write an assignment's due date and check it off once I finished it. Once we switched to online classes, I found that I needed more structure than that and needed to better manage my time, so I began using Google Calendar. I dedicated a certain time to when I would work on assignments throughout the course of the week and indicated when I would wake up each day and when I would take study breaks. Google Calendar worked great for this and made me feel so much more productive. I would further suggest color coding your calendar so you can visually see what is due and when for each class.

Treat Your Online Classes Like In-Person Classes

This goes hand-in-hand with my previous point, but developing a routine is incredibly important for productivity. Some of my classes are asynchronous meaning they don’t meet at the time we would have had it been a face-to-face class. Just because it doesn’t have a designated meeting time, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be treating it as though it doesn’t. Dedicate the time you would have been in class toward working on the assignments or reading for that class. This helps in retaining that sense of normalcy during this semester that is unlike any other.

Also, take notes! I barely took notes for one of my larger lecture classes last semester once we went virtual. Although I made it out okay because the professor and teaching assistant posted all of their notes online for us to have during our exams, I regret not taking my own notes. I was not retaining the information as well when it came time to take the exams.

Be Communicative With Your Professors

Last semester I had my fair share of internet issues so I was not able to attend every class meeting or submit assignments on time; however, letting your professor know about these issues instead of brushing them off is important. Talk to them early on about any obstacles that may interfere with your ability to complete assignments and you may be able to organize something that will work for both of you. 

Also, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Schedule video chats with them or shoot them an email if you need help with something. Even though you may be distance learning, they are still there for you if you need them.

Check and Read ALL Your Emails Often

You should be doing this already, but get in the habit of checking your emails more often than normal for updates from your professors about your courses. At Geneseo, we utilize Canvas to manage our courses and professors often make announcements there. Check and see if you are subscribed to getting emails when professors make announcements or changes to due dates through Canvas so you can stay up to date.

Keep An Open Mind

Be patient. Remember that online learning is still a new experience for many professors and they are adjusting to this format just like you so don’t be so hard on them or yourself for not getting the hang of things right away.

I hope these tips help you as we begin a semester like no other. Good luck and study hard!

Emily Tsoi

Geneseo '21

Emily Tsoi is a Senior English major with a minor in Art History. She is an avid journal writer who has one too many rolls of washi tape. When she isn’t studying or journaling, she enjoys reading, watching 80s movies and going to baseball games.
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