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Though many colleges and universities across the country are offering in-person instruction, many courses remain either partially or completely online. Online learning environments are becoming the new normal, but they can still be difficult to cope with. Here are seven tips to make the most of your virtual semester.

Keep a Planner (Both Virtual and Physical)

Many people have a planner to keep track of their classwork and homework but usually keep either a physical or an electronic one. Having both can help stay on top of your assignments. Physically writing things down helps to better remember assignments, and then uploading them to an electronic planner can assure that you will be reminded if you forget. 

Use a Whiteboard Calendar

Keeping a big whiteboard or chalkboard calendar in a visible location in the room is very effective in staying on top of your tasks. A whiteboard calendar also makes it easy to update and make changes to your schedule, as well as keeping track of important messages. A big whiteboard in your room is also hard to miss or forget about, which makes it harder to forget things in your schedule.

Turn Your Camera On (If You Feel Comfortable)

Understandably, not everyone feels comfortable turning their Zoom camera on during classes, but if that's not an issue, turning your camera on helps you stay productive. Turning the camera on holds you accountable, it prevents you from multitasking on other things during your virtual class and allows you to focus on your instructors.

Get Dressed for Classes

A big perk of virtual classes is that we can show up to class straight out of bed, in your pajamas. Although this may be tempting, sticking to a routine of getting dressed and going to class will help keep a sense of normalcy. Not only that but the process of "getting ready" prepares you for the day and you tend to be more alert and productive during the virtual class.

Set Alarms Throughout the Day

Surprisingly, virtual classes and appointments are more likely to be forgotten about than in-person ones. Setting alarms throughout the day to remind you when your classes and appointments are about to begin can save you from missing them or arriving late. Setting alarms and a time to work on assignments will also increase efficiency in your work. 

Set a Specific Time to Work on Asynchronous Classes

Asynchronous classes can be very hard to keep up with. It's also very easy to forget about completing coursework for these classes. Scheduling a specific time every day to work on asynchronous classes is a great way to prevent you from performing badly in these classes.

Create a Comfortable Environment

Studying at home doesn't work for everyone—many people typically would prefer to study in libraries or coffee shops, which aren't very safe right now. Finding a spot in your home and creating a calm, comfortable and distraction-free environment can make the online learning experience better.

Sanjana Ravulapalli is a Junior at VCU, double majoring in Political science and Digital Journalism. She currently serves as the Vice President and Events Director for Her Campus at VCU. She loves art, theatre, writing, politics and exploring Richmond. She hopes to find herself working for a major media outlet in the future.
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