Student Life: Tips for handling an online semester

Happy September! As I am writing this, it is my final first day of school. I have been in school for over 16 years, I am a little sad that soon it will be all over and I will be a real working adult! My fourth year is completely online due to the pandemic and I was thinking about how I can get the most of this year. I want to do good and learn as much as I can, but online classes are not my thing at all.

I wanted to share my personal tips and things that I am doing to make this year work! Hopefully these help your online semester be a little less stressful, as well. If you have been following Merci for a while you will know some of these tips that I have lived by since starting college. I have worked hard to create good habits and stay focused on the end goal: Graduation.

Planner or Bust

I have talked about this a lot and it’s not ground-breaking advice. But this has gotten me through four years of College! When I am in the classroom learning, I have my friends to share due dates with and remind myself of what is due (while keeping it all in a planner). But, being online means that it’s more on me to remember due dates for EVERYTHING. As soon as classes start, use the outline you’re given and make note of all the due dates you have. Even if it changes as the semester goes on, you can see everything you have due weekly. I check my planner everyday to see what I have to work on and it really helps me stay organized.

If you hate using paper and like to keep everything online, there are some online resources you can try! I have tried My Study Life, which is an online planner that has everything a normal planner would have but just online with fun colour coding and check lists (which I love). I really liked it but my preference is and always will be a physical planner.

Take Notes

Even though you’re learning online and everything may be accessible to you 24/7, still take notes from slides, readings or online video classes. This will help you learn the content better and keep you on track with the rest of the class. Don’t leave note taking to the night before your exam because it will be too much information for your brain. You will already be feeling wacky from staring at a computer all day for hours on end, you want to help your brain out. I always recommend using pen and paper, but I also really want an iPad to take notes on so I will not judge either way. Just remember to take care of your eyes and mind this year.

Routine, routine, routine

I work online and have full-time school….online. So it’s really easy to lose motivation and get stuck in a funk and quit on yourself. I like to have a morning routine, workout routine and start my day in a positive way. Somedays, I just need to stay in my sweatpants, brush my teeth, wash my face and call it a day! You do not need to get all business casual everyday but sometimes this really helps. It can be nice to wake up early, put on a nice clothes and set a positive tone for the day! Makeup and hair doesn’t have to be apart of your routine. Maybe you want to wake up every morning to meditate or workout before getting ready! It can be whatever you want, but I suggest having a routine to get yourself pumped up for the work day or school day. Just do what makes you feel happy!

Take breaks

I already know I will set a night or two where I remove myself from a screen and take a break. I don’t want to be on a laptop every single night, because that’s awful for my eyes and gives me headaches. It’s okay to take a Monday night off and hang out with your bubble of friends. Even if you just sit outside or get coffee (depending on what you can do right now with COVID-19), just take a break and don’t feel guilty about it. Invest in some nice clean-ingredient bath bombs or soap and take a warm bath with a book (always watch what you’re putting on your skin, not all bath bombs are good. Sparkles = not great)! Maybe this will be a good time for you to finally create the skincare routine you always wanted. Whatever you feel is best for you, do it.

Merci.