Now that yet another semester has started during the pandemic, we are faced with another sixteen weeks of online schooling. From having to order your textbooks, to downloading your syllabus, to attending video meetings to ask questions, there are a lot of changes to education that what we are trying to get used to. Maybe the new normal, maybe something that will change again in the coming months, but either way, here are seven dos and don’ts when it comes to college during quarantine!
1. The First Day
The first day of class is here! Though some classes have set meet times, most of us do not, so what the first day really means is signing into your school website and going through Blackboard. Hopefully, your instructor is on-top of his/her game and you can easily make your way through the announcements, introduction, syllabus, and to the first lesson plan. Now, it’s time to use all of this information to your advantage! Once you have logged in and downloaded and printed a copy of the syllabus, you can start noting what is expected from you for this course. Each teacher may have different requirements when it comes to how many times you log on, what supplies are needed when their due dates are for different items if your class will be using the Discussion Board feature, etcetera. If you have any questions, email your instructor right away.
2. Keep A Schedule
Aforementioned, a lot, if not most, courses do not have a set meeting time for online classes using video chat. So, it is up to the student to understand how many times they need to log on, when assignments are due, and how to budget their time with the twenty-plus hours of work each week. The best suggestion I can give is to treat it as if you had set meet times on campus. Keeping the same schedule every single week will help you get through all the work without pushing anything off to the last minute. It also helps give you some sort of direction with your time, which means you can schedule other stuff that may need to be done, (such as a part-time job, chores, when to run to the store, or things like doctor appointments). If you make the school the priority, it will be easier to keep things as bite-sized pieces and to succeed with the best grades possible.
3. Manufacture Your Own School Day
Just because we are at home doesn’t mean it’s not a school day. If you are sticking to your schedule, then you have designated days of the week to do schoolwork. (For example, a class a day, Tuesday through Friday.) From here, though, there are some important steps to help yourself mentally, emotionally, and academically. First, try to go to bed and get up at the same time. Second, change from your sleepwear to clothes, making a clear difference between relaxing and it being time to work. Last, but not least, have a clean and organized workspace. Whether it is at a desk, the kitchen table, or a wide space on the floor, staying away from your bed will lead you to be more productive and less likely to get distracted. Then, after all that, your schoolwork is done and you will be able to change into comfy clothes and hang around, totally able to chill without anxiety.
4. Always Ask Questions
Whether your instructor prefers email, Blackboard messaging, or wants to set up a call of some sort, if there is anything you are even acutely confused about, ask as soon as you can. That is a total plus of online schooling, too, because you can message them any time. The whole point of education is to understand what you are being taught. This understanding could be the difference between 89% and 90%. In the academic world, it is better safe than sorry. I know it seems like a hassle or a big deal because you have to go through the effort of messaging them, but if you had been in class, you would have asked, right? And since there really is no way to reach out to your classmates, your instructor is all you have. Take those extra minutes, you will not regret it.
5. Group Discussion Boards
Ah, class discussion… something some people strategically never participated in or tactfully navigated to stay impartial. Now, however, with college online, many instructors are requiring a post a week in the Discussion Board forum and at least a response or two to other students. Well, before you can even get that far, it is important that you understand what is expected of you and what the deadlines are. Something very important to realize, though, is that even though it is online, you are expected to act as if you are in a classroom. This means following classroom etiquette and the school’s code of conduct. The last thing you need is to get in trouble with your teacher or the Dean Of Student Affairs.
6. Do Not Fight With The Instructor
This brings me to my next point: don’t give your instructor a hard time. It can be easy to get carried away when typing on a screen and it can be extremely easy for intent and tone to be misunderstood. Though communication with the instructor is the first step, if you have any issues with assignments, feedback from the said instructor, your grades, or dealing with other students, avoid audio or video call meetings with your instructor, keeping everything over email or messaging. This way, you have a written record of everything said. Now, if it seems to be escalating or your feel like you are being mistreated, the next step is to contact the correct people at your school. This could be a counselor, the head of the department, or the Dead Of Student Affairs. It is better to be safe than sorry–it is better to talk to someone at the school than your instructor reporting you to the Dean Of Student Affairs for “misconduct in the classroom”.
7. Understand Your Limits
Due to the overwhelming and stressful nature of COVID-19, quarantine, and online schooling, understanding your limits is increasingly important. Understand how much you can do, how much you can offer, and if you need help is the first step to being successful with virtual college. Do keep in mind the course withdrawal dates for a full refund. Do keep in mind the textbook return dates for a full refund, and find the guidelines for a petition to pass/fail rather than have a letter grade. Though teachers and the schools are doing their best to accommodate every student, there are still rules and regulations to how they function. It is also no one’s fault if doing certain classes online is not a good fit for you, you can always try again in the future. There is nothing wrong with extending your time at school–it is better to have quality over quantity.
It’s still extremely possible to continue through your academic plan during this time and be successful. Hopefully, the seven points above will help you get through college during quarantine, helping you realize a lot of dos and don’ts of online schooling. Comment below with any other tips and tricks!
Author | English Major | #RealLifeBelle | Academic Romance | "This was no accident, this was a therapeutic chain of events." | www.TheMousyGirl.com