How to Prepare for Online Classes
2020, what a year! The last few months have brought about a lot of disappointment and ambiguity; cancelled trips, lost internships, and the unknown of when campus will reopen. This was supposed to be an amazing summer to remember and instead, it has become a massive chapter written into the history books.
As a first-year student, you can take comfort in the fact that we are all “first-years”. Everyone is preparing for our first term of remote university as well. Post-secondary can be a challenge on its own, but with online classes, there are a new set of rules for all of us to follow. Let’s get through it together :).
Here are some tips and tricks on how to prepare for online classes this fall.
Identify your workspace
Now that you won’t have access to your favourite study space at school, you’ll need to find somewhere in your house, or within your community that you can study and learn. Creating an optimal space for dedicated work can do wonders for your focus and productivity, so this is an important first step. After all, you’ll be spending quite a bit of time there as your lecture hall has now become the same place you write essays, complete assignments, and study .
This space should NOT be your bedroom (too much temptation to take a nap!), but instead a space where you go specifically to work on homework. Not everyone has enough room in their house for their own office, but there are ways to create a productive study space. Setting up on a corner of your kitchen table or a small desk near a window will work just as well. Natural light will be your friend, and having a few plants around can work wonders for happiness and stress levels. As restrictions lift, you may even be able to go to your favourite coffee shop, patio, or public library!
Make a schedule
Depending on how your university is structuring your online classes, you may have more freedom than ever before. Many are pre-recording lectures so that you can watch whenever you please. This freedom can be a double-edged sword, it can become tempting to continuously put off watching lectures. Making a schedule for yourself and sticking to it can be a life-saver! In our experience, aiming to set aside the same 6-8 hours a day for schoolwork, Monday-Friday is a great start. This can help you get into a routine. Set each day for a specific class. This will help you cover lots of ground and prevent lost time from jumping around to different lectures, textbooks, and parts of your brain. Making a schedule is a great way to keep organized, stay on top of your work, and give you some sense of normalcy - we highly recommend it!
Quick Tip: make sure to build in breaks! Taking mental breathers allows you to reset and come back ready to learn again.
Stay connected with friends and classmates
One of the best parts of university is meeting new people. For those who are starting at a new school, this may be more challenging with remote classes. However, many student groups and clubs are working hard to ensure that first-year students get the experience they hoped for. There are going to be lots of opportunities to get involved, meet new people, and attend virtual or sanctioned in-person meetups. Be sure to stay on top of your school’s social media accounts to find out about ways to participate in activities and meet new friends along the way!
Don’t forget about your high school friends! Many of them will likely be in the same situation as you. If you end up learning from home the first semester, that will allow you to keep strengthening those relationships before you eventually all head off to your respective schools.
Quick Tip: Socializing (whether safely in-person or virtually) with new friends and old will help you start your university experience on a high note!
Invest in noise-cancelling headphones
Going to a silent library is something you will feel you have taken for granted once you start online classes. There can be way more distractions, including other family members and street noise. Nothing a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones can’t fix! Whether you use them for listening to music, lectures, or just to block out background noise, they can be a life-saver if you really need to focus.
This is only the first chapter of what will be a fun and fulfilling few years. While right now it is totally normal and ok to be disappointed, it is also important not to dwell on those feelings. Focusing on the positives and the future can help get you through this. Look at the bright side, you won’t have to pay for parking on campus, pick a new outfit every day, or wait at the bus stop while it’s raining or snowing!
You’ll be on campus experiencing all that university has to offer as soon as it’s safe. Stay positive, work hard, and wash your hands :)