The transition from in person classes to spending hours in front of a computer at home was not easy. It tested both my sense of self-discipline and patience. Because I was studying in Prague, I do not have live online classes, so getting the work done is completely on my terms. Although the freedom of making my own schedule was enticing at first, it also came with more responsibility. ore often than I’d like to admit, I’m getting distracted from my school work. With finals just around the corner, it’s time to really cut the crap and master online schooling. After speaking with peers to see how they are navigating this new course structure, I compiled a list of the ways we each found success in maintaining a (somewhat) regular routine.
1. Know yourself as a student.
Just because working in chunks everyday works for some college students, it may not be for you. Try out a few daily schedules and decide how you study best. If you typically spend hours at the library trying to get ahead for the week so you can relax a bit more, try to create a college library-like environment to do the same at home. Matthew, a junior at UW-Madison, finds he works best in longer chunks of time to best take advantage of his downtime. With a few breaks here and there, some college students prefer to treat their at-home schooling with high school-like hours.
2. If you’re easily distracted, try to isolate yourself from the rest of the house.
If you’re like me, and cannot study around others without getting up to talk every 10 minutes, I would recommend staying in your room or another place away from the rest of your family to get work done. Although my favorite type of study is “social studying,” a term my college friends and I coined for half-assing our homework, I know it’s not truly effective. With finals coming in hot, I’m doing my best to isolate myself in my room while I study.
3. Allow time for built-in breaks.
Whether it’s for exercise, a creative outlet or any stress-relieving activity, each person I spoke to found that they concentrated best when they allowed themselves small breaks every 30 minutes to an hour. Camille, a sophomore at UW-Madison, likes to go for a run or tan on her deck after her morning classes before starting her homework. Studies also show that information is best retained when studies in multiple, spread out sessions. So rather than grinding for hours with no break, give yourself little breaks here and there.
4. Cut yourself some slack.
I often beat myself up when a day goes by and I don’t feel like I have maximized my time. With all the uncertainty and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to build a schedule while remaining cognisant of your mental health. Maybe the lack of outside distractions is turning this into your best semester yet, or maybe it’s not allowing you to do your best-- either is okay. Although we should all be putting in our best effort, try not to compare yourself to your previous self as we are living through truly unprecedented times.
Sophia Westover is a junior at University of Wisconsin - Madison. She is currently working on BA in Journalism with an emphasis on Strategic Communication and a minor in Gender and Women's Studies.