As colleges move to remote learning during the Coronavirus pandemic, many students are finding it challenging to maintain motivation for schoolwork and struggling with feelings of unproductivity. The academic workload may be the same as when they were on campus, but many of the associations related to that work have changed dramatically. For example, perhaps you used to study at your favorite carrel in a quiet library; now you find yourself taking Zoom classes in a noisy home that you share with other family members. To bridge this transition, it is a good idea to create a new routine and environment that helps you regain focus so that you can be motivated and productive in your new setting for learning. In essence, you want to establish good habits which will liberate you from minor stressors (such as where to do your work) so that you can turn your time and energy to more substantive, thought-intensive activities, like academics.
A few tips for remote learning and academic work:
- Define a physical space for work and class; if you’re in tight quarters, ask for use of a space for pre-determined times. Be creative – as weather warms, a local park can serve as a workspace. Do not work in bed!
- Set micro-goals – break down your assignments into smaller tasks and make a schedule to do each task.
- Remain communicative with professors and make use of virtual office hours. Remember, they are still there to help you.
- Arrange a social study group using Google Hangouts or other platform if you don’t like studying alone. Or, find an accountability partner so you can keep each other on track.
Good habits for daily living and minimizing stress:
- Designate a wake up time each day and get dressed.
- Set aside enough time to eat, exercise, and sleep, trying to avoid erratic sleep habits.
- Minimize external stressors like social media and the news.
- Consider accessing virtual counseling if you’re struggling with mental health issues. Counseling may be offered through your student health center.
- A good rule of thumb for each day: achieve one goal, enjoy one reward, and connect with one friend or loved one.
Tips for Zoom Class Sessions:
Before the session
- Have the meeting number/URL/password ready and available.
- Review any materials sent by the host/professor.
- Have materials ready that you’d like to share.
During the session
- Use headphones if you’re in a noisy space.
- Get comfortable using the mute/unmute feature.
- Participate in class by
- Using the Raise Your Hand feature in the Participants panel.
- Typing questions or comments into the Chat panel.
Avoid potential embarrassment
- Share wisely by showing only one application at a time; avoid sharing your whole screen unless you’re OK with your class seeing everything.
- Keep in mind the host may be recording the meeting.
- Be sure you’ve left the meeting before doing anything else or chatting with classmates.
Aileen Hefferren is the Chief Executive of Prep for Prep, an educational access, leadership development program based in New York City. Six hundred Prep students are enrolled at colleges across the country.
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