As someone who has just now settled into her senior year of college…from her childhood bedroom… I can tell you that this entire academic year is going to be quite the learning curve– for students, teachers, and parents alike.

Even with some schools having at least a portion of their classes in-person, a good chunk of learning is going to take place online.

For most of us, we at least had some experience with virtual schooling this past spring. However, having an entire semester of fully-online classes from start to finish can be a huge adjustment. Some college professors may not even choose to have their classes meet synchronously at all– thus leaving students feeling somewhat unguided and having to teach themselves.

Whether school has already begun for you, or it’s right around the corner, this year probably seems a bit daunting.

Regardless, there are tools for how you can still stay on top of your work, even if you never step foot on campus. Now, of course, these tips and tricks aren’t for everyone, but nonetheless…

Here are some suggestions for what can help you to get through your online courses!

Use A Planner

Or, if you’re not a fan of physical notebooks, use Google Keep and Google Calendar!

I already mentioned the importance of planning in my recent blog post, 5 Self-Care Strategies For Struggling College Students, but really wanted to drive my point home.

Even if you normally don’t use any sort of planning device when it comes to schoolwork, this year you may want to consider it. Not having the leisure of seeing due dates written on your classroom whiteboard, or hearing your professor remind you of them while they’re teaching, can make it easy to lose track of assignments.

Thus, I really do encourage you to at least try writing out a week’s worth of work in Google Calendar to see if you look at it (even if it’s only once).

Make A (Loose) Routine For Yourself

This is yet another thing I’ve mentioned before in my blog post about staying sane during quarantine, but it most certainly is still applicable to the new school year. Similar to if you actually had to physically go to class everyday, giving your days some sort of a structure can help to give your life a sense of balance.

Even if you have no classes that are meeting synchronously, keeping a semi-stable sleep routine and setting a rough plan for your days can truly help you to feel more in-control!

This could mean allotting certain times of the day for homework, working out, napping, or whatever else you have to do!

Take Breaks!

Planning and making a daily schedule for yourself can be great and all, but not if you don’t allow yourself some time to rest during the day. Overworking yourself– in any aspect of life– will only lead to exhaustion.

As easy as it can be to get sucked into the digital world, make sure to give yourself time to go for a walk or make yourself a good snack.

Implement “Power Hours” Into Your Daily Schedule

Now, this doesn’t always work. I attempted to do this on my first day of class and it turned into three hours of me finding excuses to do anything other than school work.

Rergardless of the setbacks that may arise, take a “power hour” in the midst of your studying to go and do something completely different than schoolwork. And, let me be clear, this isn’t necessarily a full-on break. Our lives are obviously multifaceted, so try to use this singular hour to get something else done. Do the dishes, clear out your personal emails, call and schedule that doctor’s appointment that you’ve been putting off, or practice playing your guitar.

This will give your brain a break from the books, but will keep it active enough where you’ll feel motivated to get back to the grind afterwards. Plus, it helps you to check off those mundane things on your to-do list.

Designate A Study Space

If you’re one of those few students still living in a dorm, even amidst the pandemic right now, your options may be limited for this one. However, for others, try to pick a place in your house or apartment where you’re likely able to get the most work done.

This spot will look different for everyone, but maybe it entails a quiet space with few distractions, or even a comfier place with lots of room spread out. Consider the types of environments that you focus best in, and then choose your space accordingly.

Doing so will also help prevent you from overworking yourself. If you never let yourself work at your kitchen table, then you’ll have an easier time separating yourself from school whenever you go to take a lunch break or have dinner with your family.

Look To Invest In Products That Enhance Your Experience

This last tip may sound a little weird, but it’s genuinely something to consider. Here are some of the items that I’ve found have really helped to make this whole virtual learning a bit easier:

  • Blue Light Glasses
    • These ease your eyes from straining after looking at a screen all day.
  • Laptop Desk
    • This will help to lessen the tension in your neck as you crane forward to use your computer.
  • Wireless Mouse
    • (If you don’t have one already.) This is simply so much easier to use than your mouse pad on a laptop!
  • Wifi Extender
    • Obviously a bit pricier, but investing in one could be super beneficial if your entire family is all working from home five days a week.

Best of luck studying, friends! Let’s crush this school year together.