5 Strategies for Coping With Suddenly Becoming an Online College Student Due to COVID-19

5 Tips to Help You Handle Suddenly Becoming an Online Student

  • Establish a Daily Routine
  • Time Management
  • Minimize Distractions
  • Know the Warning Signs
  • Understand the Types of Stress

Academic stress is a normal part of the college experience, but the coronavirus pandemic is causing a national disruption of our daily ways of life. Normally, campus college students could deal with their stress through various positive coping mechanisms, but self-quarantine means that they are now isolated from their friends, resources and familiar surroundings.

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1. Establish a Daily Routine

Most online colleges use interactive dashboards with clear expectations about deadlines and communication etiquette for each class. While students are rarely expected to be logged in all day, they are expected to actively participate in discussion boards every week. Online responses and conversations are expected to be thorough, respectful and insightful. Don’t be surprised that many online professors require word counts, such as a 200-word minimum response, to peer posts. Students should create their own private and quiet study spaces at home.

2. Use Time Management

Attending online classes for the first time can be hard if the campus student isn’t used to being self-managed. At the start of every class, review the syllabus and major assignments so you can create your own digital calendar. Schedule in time for exercise, family, relaxation and prior commitments. Create a weekly schedule that designates certain hours to reading materials, watching lectures, doing coursework, researching assignments and participating in forums. Use a timer to keep yourself focused and accountable.

3. Minimize Distractions

Smartphones have handy productivity apps that help with reminders and to-do lists, but they are also very distracting and time-consuming. Inc. magazine found that the average person uses a device over 10 hours a day and unlocks their phone up to 150 times a day. 60 percent of college students admit they are addicted to their phones and almost 90 percent of Millennials admit their smartphones never leave their sides. These shocking facts should motivate online college students to shut off their notification alerts and pop-ups, or better yet put your phone in a different room. Only keep relevant browser tabs open on the computer to minimize wandering into the web.

4. Know the Warning Signs

The National Institutes of Health states that sudden and serious life changes will cause anyone stress, but online students may experience unique warning signs of strain and pressure. Minor behavioral changes include becoming more irritable, obsessive, disinterested or disrespectful. School assignments may be turned in late, emails may be ignored and content tone may be dark or sarcastic. Students who notice any behavioral changes and academic performance slips should take extra self-care, ask for help from their support network and touch base with their professor or academic advisor.

5. Understand the Types of Stress

There are different types of stress that need to be recognized and resolved. First, time stress involves deadlines and being late. Online classes have equal academic workloads, but there are set weekly deadlines for posting discussions and assignments. Basic time management skills will resolve these deadlines. Second, anticipatory stress involves future events that cannot be controlled, so a positive mindset and a focus on present tasks will help this. Third, there is social anxiety from public speaking and college events, but these are actually minimized through distance education.

Online students who establish their own daily structure to complete their academic and personal tasks will maximize their productivity and success of going to college online. Some students may find that this coronavirus challenge may help them focus better on their academic commitments.

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