Tips for a Successful Virtual Semester

It seems crazy to think this is now my third semester where I see most of my professors and classmates on a Zoom screen! Coming back to campus for the spring semester is never easy. The days are cold and dark, and I am usually wishing I was still on break. It definitely takes me a few days to get back into the swing of things, and I am sure this semester will be no different. In fact, I think this semester may even be harder since so many of my classes are virtual. Here are some of my tips to have a successful virtual semester:

1. Create Boundaries: I have found this is super important for me! It can be really hard to have classes from my desk in my bedroom and not get distracted. Before COVID-19, I was the student in the library or in a study room at Fisher before and after classes to get homework done. I did very little schoolwork in my apartment. This means that these past semesters have been a big adjustment for me. Every Sunday, I sit down and write down what I need to get accomplished for the week and when my classes meet. I make sure to give myself time to get homework done as well. Then, I plan social activities and fun things to do in my apartment with my roommates in my free time. This helps me because it gives me a schedule and does not let me work on schoolwork for the entire day or get distracted and talk to my roommates all day!

2. Take Care of Yourself: This is important all the time, not just during a global pandemic, but I have found it really easy to forget this when you are busy with school, work, and the stress of the state of the world now! Self-care can be anything from exercising to getting enough sleep to doing a face mask and taking a long shower. Self-care can even be giving yourself time to relax and watch a new movie. I try to do three things each week that fall into the self-care category. I enjoy taking walks through campus or on the Olentangy Trail with my friends. Sometimes I even choose to take a walk alone, reflecting on my week and calling my mom. It helps clear my mind and get me focused so I can perform to the best of my ability.

3. Create a (Virtual) Study Group: Most days I have two-three Zoom classes and one-two Zoom group study sessions. When classes start, I reach out to my friends in that class or send a message and ask if anyone wants to create a study group. I have found this to be super helpful. Sometimes it can be hard to fully absorb everything during a Zoom class, so it is nice to be able to work with other people in the class. Sometimes we meet for just 30 minutes to review what we learned in class that day or review the homework. Other times, we study for a few hours for an upcoming exam. I have found that this breaks up my day and gives me social interaction, which can be hard to find during a pandemic.

4. Reach Out: Everyone is more than willing to help you navigate this stressful time. Professors are happy to host virtual office hours and answer any questions you have. Career management is willing to help you with your job search. Ohio State’s health and wellness center has counselors and therapists that are always willing to listen. I have found that Ohio State has so many resources and everyone really is rooting for you. If you are having trouble in any aspect of your life, reach out and you will be able to get the help you need.

I hope you find these tips helpful for having a successful virtual semester. I wish everyone the best of luck this semester and I hope in the Fall, things will be more normal!

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