It’s September—the back-to-school season has officially started. ZOOM is still the number one companion of many schools; since virtual learning is a new experience for many of us, we compiled a list of tips to help you get the best out of the next few months.
Online-learning isn’t the end of the world, and it has some pros over classroom-learning just like classroom-learning is better in some aspects. Perspective is important, and it’s important to be aware of the pros and cons. Regardless of the gains and losses, there’s nothing we can do but try to get the best out of this situation. There’s an Arabic moral story that states if you’re going to be walking in the rain anyway and you’ll get soaked whether you do this willingly or not, so do it with a sense of joy because there’s no way out of the situation. Without diving too deep into this, virtual learning saves a lot of time and allows technological advancements amongst education institutes which is something we’ll benefit from when we get back to school.
In regular classrooms, you shouldered the lighter responsibility of getting yourself educated as teachers were actively a part of the process. Now, however, you shoulder all the responsibility alone which is no easy task. Please don’t enter the meeting, mute the volume and attend to your life- this is not the way to do it. You might want to give this a second thought to not agonize over your results at the end of the year or struggle to grasp and understand the material for your exams. Don’t waste your money on a course that you’ll skip out on anyway, for one. Secondly, there’s no such thing as empty knowledge- you’re bound to learn a few things. A new sense of discipline is in order, and the definition of accountability was just altered a bit.
Tip 1: Goals and purpose
There are a few questions you should know coherent answers to:
- What are your desired results?
- What is the purpose of this course?
- Does the purpose of the course and my desired results align?
If the answer to 3 is a negative answer and the course is not mandatory, then it’s better than you drop it. If it is, try to think of something that would align with it for that will become your future source of motivation.
Tip 2: Technicalities
A laptop or a tablet, in most courses, would do just fine. Try to avoid using your phone as it’s a major distractor. Secondly, and more importantly, your internet connection should be stable. Up the internet plan (hopefully, that’ll work, internet speed at this point is a national struggle), and when all fails you, coffee shops and internet cafes will come to your rescue. If you’ll go to a coffee shop or an internet cafe regularly, a VPN is essential to protect your privacy and prevent hacking.
Tip 3: Study spaces
Major misconception: you can only study in pure silence. Some people would only have silence as an option while background music/or muted TV works for others best. Productivity for some of us is boosted in bustling coffee shops; everyone is different. This is why you should experiment with your study spaces.
Make sure that your study space is comfortable and is distraction-free. Leave your phone at the other end of the room or completely out of reach and pick a room with no loud family members around, this can be your living room, dining room or even kitchen! Your study space has to be well-lit and has a reliable internet connection. It’s best to not have your rest space as your study space. If you use your bed, which is unconsciously associated with sleep, for studying, it’s not going to be so pleasant.
This is just a reminder that no matter how awesome your study space is, it’ll lose its appeal and so will studying. A change of scenery every now and helps keep you on the grind. Maybe go to a quiet cafe for a productivity boost. Make it a weekly thing, and be sure to make it something you look forward to.
Tip 4: Study plans
Six hours of continuous studying a day is not an applicable plan, but it’s an unrealistic stressful one. Using a study calendar, divide your day over your social duties and your academia while being realistic and consistent. Don’t forget to leave room for error; in other words, if an assignment is due on Thursday, start on Sunday so there’s a margin available for the urgent delay. Keep in mind that delay shouldn’t always be an option, so watching this new season of your favourite TV show isn’t an excuse!
Tip 5: Stick to your plan, religiously!
This means that you shouldn’t be making any plans without taking a look at your calendar and seeing what you can and cannot fit. Your me-time isn’t negotiable, so don’t give that up for anything. Don’t sacrifice it for anything that you genuinely don’t want to do, no one is entitled to your time at all. At one point if you keep doing things you really don’t enjoy during your me-time, you’ll hit what resembles rock bottom. This is your chance to recharge and restore, use your time wisely.
Tip 6: Breaks
This is so important, utmost so. Your mind needs time to rest or it’ll shut off on you whether you like it or not. Take regular breaks throughout your day and make sure to have at least a day completely off every week.
Tip 7: To-do lists
These are your best friends, and they’ll help you keep everything organised and remembered. Break down the tasks if this helps you or write down general ones; nothing compares to the feeling of ticking something off. Microsoft’s To-Do app is very efficient and smart, we recommend it. Write the next day’s to-do list the day before.
Tip 7: Supplies
Have all your supplies with you in your study space to avoid continuous distraction. This includes snacks, your coffee, your books, copybooks and just everything. Your study space is your sanctuary.
Tip 8: Take notes
Taking notes is a great way to not have your attention waver and to get familiar with the material you are learning. During your lecture, scribble down your notes and then rewrite them again neatly as means of studying.
Tip 9: Participation
By all means, get into discussions with your classmates and teachers. It makes learning more fun! Those who are having trouble unmuting themselves, I see and relate to you! The first time is hard, but it gets easier.
Tip 10: Revision
Review and revise the material religiously and make sure you understand each last bit to make the process easy for you. Every week, make sure to review everything you’ve done as this makes you aware of your mistakes and gives you the space for improvement and change.
Tip 11: Assistance
Ask for help when you need it. You literally paid for this, it’s 100% your right. Request a re-explanation or a review if you don’t get a certain topic, text your TAs and try to do your own research.
Tip 12: Accountability
Exchange the daily to-do lists with a friend and update each other of your progress. That will keep you motivated and hold you accountable. You can do a group zoom call with your friends to study and then enjoy your breaks together!
Tip 13: Beat deadlines
Trust me, this is for the best. Be on the top of your game by doing your assignments a few days before they’re due to avoid the infamous all-nighters and have the time to yourself. Besides, it feels really good to really have got everything done.
Tip 14: Limit social media
I know how tempting getting lost in your timeline is, but it’s a time sucker (and that’s an understatement). After you’re done with your studies, check your messages and scroll through your timeline all you want. We’re not telling you to completely isolate yourself; you can reply to your messages throughout the day during your breaks–it’s just that dedicating an hour or so every night to reply to your friends and getting updated is a good habit for many.
Tip 15: Reward yourself
Create a reward system to keep yourself going. When you score a grade that makes you happy, treat yourself to ice-cream, a movie or simply whatever makes you happy!