Updated: Oct 28, 2020
By: Bianca Viana
This past semester was filled with changes that disrupted the lives of all students, faculty and administration. I think I can speak for all students when I say I am excited to be back on campus this upcoming semester, but I am still very unsure of what that will look like. As of this writing, we will be together in person, but the Covid-19 pandemic is unpredictable, so preparing for the possibility of online learning can be helpful should the adjustment be needed.
The biggest disruption last semester was the switch from in-person classes to online classes. Many students and faculty were not used to learning or teaching fully online. It was a big adjustment from the traditional classroom setting, but by now most of us are at least familiar with it.
Even so, initially the switch to online learning was a leading cause of stress and anxiety for many students and teachers. Some students were especially worried about losing motivation to do work or accomplish the things they were hoping to this semester. In addition, many students and faculty were dealing with the pandemic firsthand at home. For others,
Designated a specific work/study area in your being at home with family might have
home and stick to a schedule. led to a difficult learning environment.
However, university staff was very quick to offer tips helping everyone to get through this new way of life—and these tips hold true going forward. An important tip that helped me and many other students was designating a specific work/study area in your home and sticking to a schedule or routine. Additionally, it was important to continue using on-campus resources that were now available virtually.
The Learning and Writing Center was effective in transferring all of their services online for students to continue using. Last semester, Meagan DeMaria, an English major from the class of 2020 and Writing Center tutor, spoke about how they were adjusting to online tutoring. “Both centers are increasing operations and scheduling availability so that they can accommodate an influx of new users should that be the case.”
Appointments were held using the WCOnline interface. Small group appointments for the Learning Center were also held on goboard and other online resources. The Learning and Writing Center also added some tutorials on online learning and improving time-management skills and additionally provided students with links to other helpful resources. The Writing Center also helped their writing assistants in moving their services online. Writing assistants are extremely helpful in that they work with specific classes to help the students with their assignments.
Throughout the semester, writing assistants provided online tutoring sessions. These ranged from providing Google doc comments to having online video chats. This is another great resource that students will be able to utilize throughout this transitional period.
The Department of Health, Outreach & Promotion sponsored many wellness events via online platforms this past semester. These events ranged from “Online Guided Meditation,” to a “Workshop: Coping During Crisis,” to “Chat & Chew Lunchtime Hangout.” There were many other events held virtually, including a campus favorite, Relay for Life. Checking eCampus regularly will guarantee that you don’t miss out on different online events.
Erin Furey, the department’s outreach, training and mental health promotions coordinator, offered more specific advice to students. First and foremost, be patient with yourself.
“Nobody has experienced anything like this, and this transition to online learning is very abrupt,” Furey said. “Everyone is experiencing these adjustments, so try being patient with yourself as you adapt to all of these changes.”
Additionally, they recommend creating a routine for yourself and practicing personal hygiene.
“Anxiety rises when we don’t know what is happening or what is planned,” Furey said. “By creating a routine and planning your day, you will be able to reduce some of that stress and anxiety. It is important to still get up and take a shower and get dressed how you would for school.”
Students who joined the “Coping with Crisis” webinar were given access to an electronic
scheduling template to help them create a routine. While doing so, it’s important to limit your social media usage.
Furey said, “Reducing anxious scrolling online [is important]. Some stuff online is really negative and dark. Social media has no natural end point, the propensity to keep scrolling until you can’t scroll anymore [is great].”
With this being true there are productive ways to use social media. Try going on for 30 minutes at a time just to direct message some friends, make a post or look up stress-relieving tips. Additionally, keeping in contact with friends should be a part of your daily routine for your mental and emotional health.
Furey added, “Texting is cool and great, but video chatting allows you to see someone’s face and this is extremely important to feeling you are being social.”
Finally, Furey recommended creating boundaries. Whether this be with family, friends, schoolwork, etc. Often, it is rather easy to feel tension with your parents when there are many adults in the same house. It is recommended that you set boundaries for when you need some time alone at home. Something I often did was go on socially distant walks between classes. This was a great way for me to de-stress, have some alone time, exercise and get out of the house.
It is especially important to create boundaries with schoolwork. Furey stated, “I don’t want students to feel like they are locked to their computer.”
Set a number of hours you are going to do work and then take a break. It is definitely not healthy to sit in front of your computer screen all day long doing work while not leaving your house. In addition to all of this it is important to make sure that you continue eating, sleeping and keeping to your normal self-care or workout routines.
With all of these changes, remember that while being home you are helping to reduce the transmission of this disease. I am eager to see what this next semester will hold for us, but I know that things will be very different. We have to remember that we are all new to this and that this will indeed be an adjustment for us all.