College Is Online ... Now What?
First, we got sent home during our spring semester. Initially, it felt like a very strange vacation during the weirdest time of our lives. Now, it’s the new normal. I was waiting for my school to decide if we would go back to campus for classes in the fall for what felt like an eternity. When they finally made the announcement that our fall semester would be 100% remote, I was upset but certainly not surprised. As time went on and more of my friends at other schools said they were going back to campus, I grew more and more shocked. With cases of COVID-19 back on the rise and the news of outbreaks in high schools that went back with full capacity, I couldn’t believe schools were even considering it.
When I got the dreaded email that we were all online, I decided there was no point to live in Boston and pay the outrageous rent if there was no real need for me to be there. So, I decided to sublet my apartment and live at home for the semester. Was this an easy decision? No. Am I excited to be living at home while all my friends and the place I’ve grown to call home is hours away? Not particularly. Unfortunately, this pandemic has forced us all into situations we aren’t too thrilled about; it is something we just have to figure out and deal with.
Since I lived on my own with roommates for a whole year, I got very used to doing everything for myself (grocery shopping, cooking my meals, cleaning, paying the electric bills, etc.) so the adjustment to living back at home is a little bit nerve-racking to some degree…especially since I am entering my senior year of college and have never had to do college work from home. My top concern? My productivity. While I have been working from home for Skillsoft since March, adding on a full course-load of classes is a whole other challenge and chunk of time I will be sitting at my computer. Not only will I be behind the screen for all my classes, but also for completing all my homework. In other words, the screen time doesn’t just end when class ends, or my workday is over anymore. You know how people are trying to limit their screen time? Well, that is practically impossible for students like me now.
In a perfect world, we would be able to juggle it all with no problem and the screen time wouldn’t even phase us. However, we all know the world we are living in is far from perfect. We want to juggle our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health along with school, work, friends, family, the pandemic, social issues, and more. It is A LOT. So, if you are feeling as unsure as I am, here are a few thoughts and tips for you to use or share with a loved one or someone you think could use them:
- Take a step back and BREATHE. It will work out. Everyone is dealing with adjustments and strange new changes that are slowly becoming the new normal.
- Don’t expect to be able to take on everything you took on last semester or last year. We are living in a PANDEMIC. Everything is SO uncertain.
- Time management is key. When we are being forced to look at a screen for so long every day, finding time throughout the day to step away is imperative. To do this, try to:
- Time yourself. My mentor shared an app with me called “Time Clock” that she uses to clock in and clock out of work for the day but also for each different project/task she works on. This allows her to track how much time she spends on projects and how many hours she is logging behind her screen.
- Block sections of your calendar for specific things. On my work calendar, I block time chunks for me to complete certain tasks. They show up as meetings so that people know I am busy. This works for work, but for the rest of life, it is still a challenge. I recommend blocking chunks of time for exercise, no screen time, getting outside, etc. So, that you don’t let school and work take over.
- Remind yourself to step away from the screens. If possible, give yourself a screen free day/afternoon/night once or twice a week. This will help you check in with your body and mind, and relax. For me, I do yoga.
- Make sure that you make spending time with family and friends a priority. Carve time out of your schedule every day to have a quick chat, grab coffee, or share a meal with someone important in your life. It is easy to get wrapped up in the work/school routine and forget you have a life outside of it all.
With all that said, I am still figuring it out too…we all are. This is unchartered territory for everyone, so go easy on yourself and others. Don’t worry, you’ll continue to kick butt — pandemic or not.