Making the Most out of Online School

Whether you are in high school or college, hybrid or fully remote, odds are you are experiencing online schooling for the first time this year, and you’re pretty bummed about it. For some of us, online school means not being able to live on campus, not getting to see our friends, having a hard time focusing in class, or feeling like we aren’t able to make the most out of our school experience like we thought we would. 

Like many other college students, my on-campus Freshman experience year was cut short and I am starting my Sophomore year online. Last March I had to go from finally living in a city, like I had always dreamed of, to living back home in my small town. I had to say goodbye to the friends I was just starting to really get close to and to the city I was finally feeling fully comfortable in. I have felt a lot of resentment and frustration towards the fact that my college experience is not, in any way, going how I thought it would be. Upon discovering that I would not be able to return to campus this Fall, I felt incredibly disappointed and a bit hopeless. I knew that this semester would come with challenges I didn’t have to face in spring, as all of my hometown friends were able to return to their campuses. I prepared myself to feel lonely and isolated. Mine is certainly not a unique experience

Happily, with the support of friends, family, and of course, my therapist, I have been finding that my situation isn’t as bleak as I first thought it was. I have realized that there are great advantages to doing school online and found great ways to cope with the disadvantages. Here are the main ways I am making the most out of online school.

  1. Make your own schedule: Online classes come with a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous classes. This means you have a lot more flexibility in determining when to spend time on schoolwork. I have found it helpful to set specific hours each day that I want to spend on my schoolwork. It helps me both curb procrastination and give my day some structure in a way that works best for me. 

  2. Hone in on the good: I find it helpful to focus on why I am grateful to be where I am now, rather than why I wish I was somewhere else. One of my favorite things about being back home for college has been spending more time with my younger brother and my family pets. I’ve also been enjoying exploring the various apple orchards and hiking trails in my area that I would have missed out on if I was back at school. 

  3. Get some gadgets: There are a few purchases I have made this semester that have made getting through my online classes much more bearable. For only $25, a yoga ball chair is a must. Sitting on one of these in comparison to a normal desk chair has improved my posture, balance, and helps me focus (if you’ve ever noticed me bouncing up and down on zoom now you know why). Another cheap purchase is blue light glasses. I got a pack of 3 pairs for $15 and I truly notice that my eyes aren’t straining as much when I wear them. Finally, any and all fidget toys, stress balls, or play doughs make any class a bit more enjoyable.