Top 5 tips for living off-campus this online semester
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, colleges and universities across the country are attempting to determine how to get students back to school and resume normal semesters. Some colleges are preparing to start the fall semester on time, with specific regulations enforced to keep both students and faculty safe. Other colleges and universities are taking a different approach and instead planning to start the fall semester virtually.
With a majority of college students off campus, either at the home of their parents or in an apartment/home off-campus, many are trying to find the best way to prepare for an online semester and make their space away from college feel like the place they know, love, miss. Living off-campus for an online semester in normal circumstances isn’t too bad. You can save money with affordable housing options, have more freedom, and share a space with multiple roommates. Campus is only a short distance away, which still gives you the accessibility to fun gatherings, sporting events, and campus actives. Due to coronavirus, however, living off-campus can feel even more isolating, as a majority of friends and classmates are away from campus and back home.
Unfortunately, no one knows or can anticipate when students will resume normalcy and be able to be back on campus again, which means at least for now, college is wherever you are. This doesn’t mean that you still can’t make the most of an online semester off-campus, however! Here are five ways to help you conquer the upcoming virtual fall semester from your off-campus home.
Living off-campus – Motivate yourself with your space
There is nothing quite like being a part of a school community. In college, school pride, passion for school sports, and love for everything associated with school automatically unites you with the community of students around you. While you can’t be physically at school to feel a part of the greater community, you can bring your school to your home by decorating with fun school memorabilia, pictures of friends, etc. Doing so will still give your apartment/home that college feel without being physically on campus, and can motivate you to get all of your necessary work done. Even though its disappointing that you can’t have the normal college experience for a while, remember the greater purpose of why you are in college and continue pushing to obtain your degree!
Living off-campus – Cut distractions
When you are engaging in your online class, try to take preemptive measures to reduce distractions, as this will help to keep you from procrastinating. Social media, texting, music and television, etc. are all huge distractions that can affect your participation in online classes. Take breaks when you feel that you deserve one, perhaps to get a snack or something, and set a timer. During your break you can have the freedom to be consumed by all of your distractions, however, once that timer ends, get back to work! Doing so again helps build self-discipline and pushes you to get your work done faster.
Keep in touch with friends
As stated earlier, living off-campus, especially during the pandemic can be isolating. You have to abide by campus and local regulations regarding seeing your friends, how many friends you can visit, how frequently you can visit them, etc. Though it can be upsetting to not be able to physically see your friends, it is still important to keep in touch! Keeping in touch with your friends will help you not only feel more social, but it will also give you a greater sense of connection that you’re missing from the normal college experience. FaceTime, text, have a group Zoom party, or even watch some Netflix shows/play games together virtually- there are plenty of ways to enjoy the company of your friends from home!
Don’t forget the importance of fresh air
While it is comforting to be at home, being stuck in the house for an extensive period of time can take a toll on you. Staring at a computer screen and being consumed by schoolwork isn’t going help you be more productive or get better grades on your assignments, in fact, it can even be worse for you! When living off-campus for your online semester, remember the importance of going outside and getting fresh air. Reconnecting with the outdoors has several benefits for both our mind and body, such as improved short-term memory, reduced stress, and improved concentration. Lauren L. Friedman and Kevin Loria of Business Insider note, “One thing that can help get your mind back into gear is exposing it to restorative environments, which, research has found, generally means the great outdoors. One study found that people’s mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature. (Pictures of city scenes had no such effect.) Studies have also found that natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, which is one of the surest ways to experience a mental boost.”
When you’re at home tackling an online semester, it is incredibly important to maintain organization of your workload, when you need to study, and important class meetings. Because you are at home, you are more vulnerable to getting distracted since you’re not being monitored in a regular classroom. Jason Ruckert, chief digital learning officer Top 5 Tips for Living Off-Campus This Online Semester at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide comments on this, stating, “In face-to-face courses, there are regular meeting patterns and for some, this may assist students in their organization, but in online courses, there is much more reliance on the student.“ To help with organization, create a schedule that details the coursework for all of your classes each day, make note of class meetings, testing days, etc. to keep you on track.