With most students in a virtual or hybrid school model for at least the start of this school year, we at Ivy Experience are sharing our best advice for making the most out of virtual education.
Establish a Good, Professional Workspace
When working from home, make sure you have a distraction-free, productive space to work in. If you identify a distraction, remove it from your workspace. Maybe that means putting your phone on do not disturb and plugging it in on the other side of the room, or maybe that means keeping the area organized and free of clutter. Find what helps you stay focused and make it happen.
Also consider your video chat background. You will be attending class and meetings on camera in many cases, and your bed’s headboard is not necessarily the best backdrop for a serious discussion. Make sure your background is at the very least neat and presentable to make a good impression.
Time management is key when so much of your learning is self-directed. Make a schedule and keep to it. Some students like to map out every minute of every day. Others might just want to set “pre-lunch” and “post-lunch” goals, and still others might just prefer the good old-fashioned daily to-do list. Whatever works for you, make a plan for each day and stick to it.
And don’t forget to take breaks! No one can perform at their best without taking some time for themselves between intellectually demanding tasks.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach out for Help
It is easy for students to fall out of touch with their teachers in a virtual context, just doing the bare minimum. But if you are stuck, reach out for help! This is especially important in cumulative classes, like math and foreign languages, where missing information from early in the year will only get worse as you move through the year. Reach out to your teachers whenever you do not understand, or look to friends or an outside tutor if you need more help.
Bonus tip for students who are thinking ahead to letters of recommendation for college: While virtual school presents a challenge this year in forming relationships with potential recommenders, it also provides an opportunity. Teachers are people, too, and they will miss the face-to-face connection with their students. Students who take initiative to stay in contact and reach out when they need help can separate themselves more than ever if many students grow complacent in the virtual environment. Plus, if schools meet physically before the year is up, those students will already have the foundation of a great teacher-student relationship.
Social Health Fosters Mental Health
Everyone has different social needs, but everyone has social needs. Don’t neglect yours!
Make sure to set aside the right amount of time for valuable interactions with your peers. You can get creative with this. How can you take something you already love to do and turn it into something even more purposeful and meaningful? Like to game? Try organizing your own tournament series with a social media presence, maybe with an entry fee that goes to a charity of the winner’s choice. Like to read? Start a book discussion group with your peers. Struggling in math? Form a homework group with some friends to work through it together.
Whatever your method, the rewards of meaningful socializing on your mental health will be worthwhile.
Wake up with a Purpose
In the virtual school context, it is easy to have that “Groundhog Day” feeling of waking up to the same thing every day. Students can so easily lose motivation and feel purposeless.
Try setting a goal for every day. It can be related to school, but it could also be anything: fitness, personal, social, etc. Each morning, reflect briefly on what your goal is for the day, and each evening, take stock of how you accomplished it, or what progress you made if it didn’t quite get done. This builds a sense of accomplishment and progress into what may otherwise seem repetitive.