Virtual Academia

How to survive being a student in a Covid-filled world

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We have all seen those (being honest – sketchy at times) advertisements for online classes, which place emphasis on the idea that you can ‘learn from the comfort of your own home’ and work on school assignments in your ‘spare time’. This works for some people, but not so much for others. But what happens when the entirety of academia is plunged into a virtual-based world, no matter which way you prefer to learn? It’s impossible to accommodate everyone, especially those who struggle with learning or teaching online, much less in a lockdown or quarantine situation.

Even though nothing about this situation is ideal, I’ve composed a list of things that have helped me as a student, who is unable to conduct proper research or meet with their adviser in person.

 

Communicate

About everything. With your professors. Your academic institutions. The Dean. Fellow classmates. A professional. A friend. Good news, bad news, boredom – it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying to chat up everyone for every moment of every day, but don’t forget to reach out to others at some point… They are going through this too. Especially if there is something that you need to talk about or having issues with, it is important to take care of the situation immediately. At the same time, if they need some mental time to themselves, don’t take it personally.

 

Find an efficient workspace that works for you, even if it’s… everywhere

One of the things that I have found to be most beneficial when being stuck indoors with school work is to create a work atmosphere that works for me, no matter what that looks like for YOU. I have read a lot of articles that say create and designate an organised space, with a desk, a little lamp, and a comfy chair, then your productivity will increase! Yeah maybe, if that works for you. This will take some trial and error, but it is possible to figure out how YOU work best. If you need boundaries, set them! If you can’t work in the same room as a couch and a tv, don’t! If you can work literally anywhere, do that!

Personally, my effective work atmosphere changes almost daily. Sometimes even several times a day. Some days I would be laser-focused, while on other days I wanted to be in any other space than where I was trying to work. So I leaned into wanting to be just about anywhere else – and it worked like a charm! If I change my surroundings when I feel like changing them, my motivation is instantly restored. Even while writing this article, I have changed places! Sometimes it’s at my desk in my comfy chair, others it’s sitting on my couch, or maybe it’s cross-legged on the floor… You get my point.

 

Look for other sources

If you are having a difficult time understanding something, don’t hesitate to seek out other sources or forms of instruction based on the way that you learn best. It is difficult for educators to provide lessons online that are accommodating to all students; this is much easier in a classroom setting. This could include reaching out to other professors for materials, trying a different library, or maybe even tutorials on another platform. There is always an alternative method of teaching something.

 

Try new methods of study

This one is important, and a lot of people don’t necessarily know where to begin. The short answer is – like the workspace and sources – study how you study best. Do you remember things best by hearing something? Maybe you’re a visual learner, and you have to see it. Perhaps you learn by actions or doing something. A quick Google search with the subject or concept that you are trying to learn + the type of learner you are will almost always yield positive results. For example, if you learn best by ‘flashcards’, by trivia, or by song, there are websites and sources for these types of studying! Maybe you study best by teaching someone else the concept – find someone who is willing to volunteer and teach them!

 

Do EXTRA research

This one might be a little…. overachieve-y of me…. but I find that in most cases, it genuinely does help one understand new material in a bigger scope. If you go to the ‘next step’ – whatever that may be within a concept – you will be able to see it either in practice or where it fits into the world. If you aren’t sure where to begin, I’m sure your teacher can guide you in the right direction!

 

Be as patient as you can be with your professors/institution

Please remember that teaching online is new for a lot of educators; not every teacher has had a course on online teaching or online etiquette. A large number of them are feeling the same pain and frustration that you are (and honestly, probably even more so). The same goes for institutions – a lot of rules or processes are changing on a whim. There are so many people with different opinions and it’s impossible to accommodate every person. HOWEVER, If you are being mistreated in any way, be sure to know when that line is crossed and have a meeting with them or contact the proper administrator.

 

Be patient with yourself and don’t forget to take care of YOU

Remember, no one has dealt with what we are all experiencing right now; this is a learning curve for all of us. If you’re getting frustrated or make some mistakes, it’s okay! Just remember to be kind to yourself. It’s important. Take care of yourself in whatever way makes sense for you! But always drink water. 🙂

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