DTS Magazine

How to Adjust to Studying Online

Everything is online. Now what? The current events have left many scrambling for answers. How do we effectively transition our school or business online? How much of life do we need to alter?

We are all learning and attempting to adjust to the fluidity of the times. Recently much conversation has occurred on how teachers and professors can transition to online education. However, there has been little input on how students should transition and adjust to their online studies.

Here are seven tips on how to be a student during COVID-19:

1. Foster a healthy perspective now.

If no one has told you yet, allow me—this is NOT the way it’s supposed to be. Living amid this peculiar kind of anxiety and fear is abnormal, and we must identify it as such.

Taking a moment to recognize that life moving forward will be different, look different, and feel different is critical. This is the first step for anyone, especially students, is to transition well. By fostering a realistic and healthy perspective now, you will set up a “win” later. Call a spade, a spade, and let’s also make the most of our days and our education.

2. Start over and create a new plan.

There’s an old quip that says, “If you fail to plan, the plan to fail.” New challenges will present themselves each day. Work with, and not against, your professors. Formulate a new plan starting today until the end of the semester.

What does that plan look like for me?

Print out your syllabi. Tape them to your wall or poster board. Highlight critical due dates and make last-minute changes to the requirements. Be specific with timelines and project assignments. Set block times for certain tasks. Add it to your calendar or dust off the old planner you received for Christmas or purchased back in January and put it to use.

Now is the time to start anew. Whatever it may look like, create a plan.

A plan during these times will be a good friend to have. Developing a thought-out plan is essentially the best way we, as students, can take ownership of our education moving forward.

3. Be intentional with your day.

Were you homeschooled as a child? Then this tip may perhaps be a no-brainer for you. But if you’re like me and attended a traditional school, then permanently studying from home is uncharted territory.

Treat this semester as a job. A good way to ensure productivity is to set your alarm, wake up, shower, and get dressed. Although it is tempting, staying in your pajamas is a hurdle most must overcome. Instead, begin each day as if you were leaving for school or work. Wake up at an appropriate time. Take a shower and get moving. Trust me; there is something about getting dressed that changes productivity.

In addition, go to bed at a reasonable hour. With the internet looming in your hand, avoid scrolling for hours at the end of your day. Leave the virtual space for a time of prayer and reflection. Make every effort to remain disciplined, and begin and end each day with determination and intentionality.

4. Give each place a purpose.

Designated spaces matter. I have always admired those who can lie in bed with a laptop open to write papers. Unfortunately, for me, attempting to study or do work in bed leaves me falling asleep within minutes. Which one are you?

No matter the size of your house, apartment, or dorm, designating spaces is vital and necessary! I reside in approximately 500 square feet of living space. In my home, I have selected a small desk for all school work. My couch is for entertainment, my kitchen table is for eating, and my bed is for sleeping and non-academic reading. Doing this may seem overly simplistic, but it makes a difference. Try it!

Designate each area in your living quarters for a specific purpose, and don’t compromise it! Productivity will flow from assigning meaning to each space.

5. Make an effort to maintain communication.

Reach out to your professors. Fortunately, for most, technology empowers us to make this transition more smoothly. Let’s use it well! We all know that face-to-face instruction and interaction are essential for education. Take ownership of your learning and create space and opportunity for “face-to-face” interaction…through technology! This tip is truly an effort to work with, and not against, our beloved professors. FaceTime, Skype, Google, Webex, Lifesize, Zoom, etc. all are mediums we can use to communicate with our classmates and professors.

Schedule a time and reach out to your classmates. Trust me; they are longing for interaction just like you.

Take the initiative and plan to communicate with your professor.

Let’s do our part in enhancing our education the best we can. Lean into the online medium, and let’s commit to stay in contact and communicate.

6. Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually.

However obvious or oblivious, this may seem to you now; taking care of yourself is crucial for many reasons other than only contributing to the spread of the virus.

Others need you, too.

Yes, wash your hands, but let’s not forget to take care of ourselves holistically.

Set reminders on your phone. You likely are accustomed to doing that already for appointments, taking medicine, due dates, etc. Why not for self-care?

Make time for mediation and prayer. Set a calendar appointment to call or FaceTime someone. Why not search for a home workout on YouTube. Pick up a new hobby. Journal your thoughts. Watch what you eat more carefully. All of these things are essential.

Work smarter, not harder when it comes to self-care. You can do this. Be creative!

7. Stay patient not only with others but with yourself.

These times are full of stress and anxiety. Breathe. We are all learning. In what ways can you give yourself and others more margin?

Permit yourself to extend grace. And give yourself grace when you don’t get as much done as you did beforehand, especially now that you’re studying at home. These first few weeks will require adjusting to your new environment. At home, you will have a different rhythm and routine than in the classroom. And you know what? That’s okay.

As the semester moves forward, things will likely change more. Stay flexible with your professors as they try and offer you the highest quality education. Remember, this is new to some of them too. Give yourself a break as the student attempting to learn in an environment different than what you’ve known. And be patient with others who may not be enduring in the same manner you are.

We are all learning. Let’s remain patient with ourselves and with one another.

Jackson Woosley
Originally from Texarkana, Texas, Jackson earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is currently completing a ThM from DTS, with an emphasis in Spiritual Formation and Theological Anthropology. He also serves as a Spiritual Formation Fellow within the Spiritual Formation department. When he is not buried in a book, he tends to enjoy exploring Dallas, traveling, climbing, riding his bike, and hosting friends and family.
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