Tips for a successful semester

Dealing with the difficulties of online learning

There is no question that another semester spent at home is sure to wear on students, but with the proper tool belt and, in some cases, an attitude adjustment, success may seem more within TRU students’ reach. Shannon Smyrl, Journalism, Communication, and New Media department head, says academic success really boils down to taking responsibility for your studies. 

“More than ever before, students have got to approach school as if it’s their full-time job,” says Smyrl. “Students must dig a little deeper and force themselves into some type of structure.” 

Because we have had to adapt to this new way of learning, we have also had to abandon our familiar patterns. Without those patterns, it is easy to feel blue. 

“When we can’t go about our daily routines and feel blue… we can sometimes start to lose motivation,” says Smyrl. 

Routine is imperative when studying virtually. Smyrl suggests blocking out time for study as well as rest.

“The nice thing about going to university is that there is already a sort of semi-structure laid out for you,” she says. 

Working on classwork during allotted class times, even if classes are asynchronous, is an excellent place to start. After clearing your schedule, determine how long you plan to stick with your studies each day: “Maybe plan to work from ten [oclock] to two, and then take time for lunch followed by a bit of exercise,” says Smyrl. “You know, actually block it off in a planner and delegate times to get stuff done. Individual classes should take anywhere from five to six hours a week, so really take the time to map out what your week should look like knowing the amount of time and effort needed to keep up with your studies.” 

Keeping a planner acts as a sort of physiological reminder, says Smyrl: “It may sound like common sense, but scheduling yourself in this way can really end up motivating you when we are already, as said, lacking in motivation… without [our planners], each week can kind of just float by.” 

Smyrl urges students to further take responsibility for their studies by simply being honest with themselves about the changes made to our realities. Doing so could help, again, on a physiological level.

“None of us chose this… you know? It kind of just happened this way to all of us. It is true that, in many cases, students have had to take more responsibility for their learning than they might have had to in the past… and that’s really the reality of it all. So, I think if students can work on accepting that reality, you know that fact that they are going to have to take the lead on this thing, it might make things a little bit easier for them,” said Smyrl. 

Active individual-based learning, the kind of learning many students are having to get used to, can be over exhausting, and our dependence on screens does not necessarily help the issue. Coming to terms with the fact that things may not come as easy this school year is especially important for student sanity. 

In closing, Smyrl reminded students to reach out for help if need be and take advantage of campus resources. She also urged students to check out the Learning Without Walls feature on moodle, which highlights many of the topics mentioned within the above article in further detail.

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