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5 Tips for the Upcoming Virtual Semester

With the Fall 2020 semester going mostly virtual, it is definitely a weird time to be a student. Don’t get me wrong, online schooling has some great benefits such as going to class in pj’s, not having to catch the bus, and having a more flexible schedule. However, some major drawbacks make it a difficult time as well. After going through most of last semester as a member of “Zoom University,” I feel that I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t with going to school online. Here are five tips to (hopefully) help you survive the virtual semester!

Create a separate space for work

While doing e-learning at home, it is important to find a space where you can be free of distraction and focus on your schoolwork. Doing work and attending meetings while in bed reduces productivity and makes it harder to fall asleep at night. Also, working in a space that is constantly bombarded with family members will cause unwanted diversion and stress. Finding the optimal space that works best for getting work done and staying focused is one of the keys to your success at home!  

Get into a routine

When you don’t have to physically get up to attend  class every day it can be difficult to fall into a solid routine. Without the structure of an in-person class, each day begins to blend into the next and it becomes easier to blow off Zoom lectures and forget about assignments. One thing I find super helpful is to go through all of your classes at the beginning of each week and keep a detailed schedule, planning out exactly what you have to accomplish each day. Even though your Canvas dashboard  tells you when your assignments are due, writing everything out yourself and planning your days is just another way to stay organized in such a chaotic time.  

Attend virtual office hours or study sessions

Way back when classes were on campus, it was easier to interact face-to-face with your professor and classmates. Now that everything is online, this interaction is dismissed, which leads to classes often feeling impersonal and ineffective. A good way to combat this issue is to attend virtual office hours and study sessions! While it may not be the same as seeing them in person, talking to your professors and peers over Zoom is a great way to get to know one another more, learn the material better, and evoke the feelings of being “in” class.  

Stay connected through virtual clubs and events 

It has never been a better time to join a club or go to events than now! Instead of physically going to meetings, it is easier to just log into Zoom and stay connected with campus life while expanding your resume. The Rutgers getINVOLVED page is a great place to check out all of the different organizations that Rutgers has to offer and lists many events to attend weekly. There really is something for everybody, and getting involved is a great way to immerse yourself into the community.

Find a schedule that works for you (by arrangement courses, take an extra course…)

Finally, now is a great time to experiment and play around with your schedule to make the most out of the semester. Personally, I have been opting for more “By Arrangement” courses as I find it easier to complete work on my own rather than having to attend Zoom meetings every day. This flexibility allows me to have more time to complete other responsibilities as well as more time for myself. In addition, friends of mine have found the online semester to be a good time to take more credits. For those who feel not quite as challenged or more relaxed compared to in-person classes, now might be a good time to add on an extra class to get it out of the way.

Even though this may be a difficult time, I hope these tips help you make online schooling just a little bit better!

Tori is a current freshman at Rutgers University from Middletown, New Jersey. She is pursuing a major in Marketing and loves to watch Netflix, write, travel, and be outside.
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