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Being a Student at Home: A Guide to Staying Focused

  • Posted 3 months ago
  • University

Coronavirus has forced many aspects of our lives online. Schools and unis have to adapt to distance learning with the prospect of continued teaching via online platforms and the increase in students enrolling on online courses. School closure has been in place since March now and it’s looking increasingly likely to persist through summer and potentially into the autumn term. Preparing for distance learning is important for both teachers and students.

Of course, we must remain optimistic and currently, schools and universities are indeed confident that by September and October, it’ll be largely business as usual. However, planning is crucial here and universities and schools are adapting fast to new learning landscapes whilst preparing for longer-term distance learning options.

What Have Universities Done Already?

Universities and schools have been in the process of moving their learning and resources online. This has been a huge infrastructural task for universities in particular that have had to adapt to online teaching even on courses that are heavily reliant on in-person learning.

Assessments and exams have changed, some will be scrapped completely whereas others will be rescheduled or taken online. Lectures and seminars are going ahead using DIY methods ranging from Zoom conference call to Google Classrooms. Some methods are working better than others – it’s pretty tricky for all when the tutor is crackling and freezing up as you’re trying to take notes from your bed whilst eating crisps and playing PS4 at the same time.

Jokes aside, distance learning is becoming a serious path forward through the madness. It’s enabling life to go in the world of education and if coronavirus persists or resurges, it’s going to become increasingly useful and necessary. It’s best to try and get used to it now, just in case.

Will Uni Start in Autumn?

Given that summer will be a crucial time for coronavirus as restrictions are slackened and people are allowed out more, there’s no telling what could happen. It’s currently impossible to say whether or not uni will go ahead as normal, whether courses will be taught initially via distance learning or whether the entire year will be restructured.

We all hope so and as it stands, universities and schools are increasingly confident that life will be resuming to a degree of normality by the start of the autumn term. However, provisions are being made in case lockdowns persist and delays to the course start dates become necessary.

A major part of this for students is their exam results. A-Levels are cancelled and this means students will be receiving grades calculated by their teachers based on performance in coursework, homework and mock exams.

Grades will be published in August and then students will have a relatively small amount of time to work out whether they’ll need to appeal grades or resit to get their first-choice options. Resits will occur in the autumn or summer of 2021. Resits taken in autumn should enable students to get into uni courses for late entry in January and unis are being encouraged to offer this as much as possible – but always check first.

Will My Education be Affected?

No. No one is going to lose out on their education because of the coronavirus. Exams can be resit in the worst-case scenario and universities are being encouraged to be generous and flexible. It’s in their best interests to attract students anyway, so it’s likely that tolerance will be extended to those who missed out on grade targets by slim margins.

Whilst you study, if your course is disrupted by coronavirus and you have to self-isolate or government restrictions come into force once more, universities have the responsibility of adopting and helping you overcome adversity without compromising your education.

Can I Switch to Distance Learning?

No school, no uni, no work, right?! Wrong! There is still work to be done and staying focused at home isn’t as easy as it sounds. Procrastination is becoming public enemy number 2 next to coronavirus, it’s just way too easy to slack with snacks in the fridge, Xbox and bed.

For some, it might seem like the dream, rolling out of bed at 8:30 to just open their laptop to work whilst they eat some breakfast and stick the kettle on. For others, though, this is hellishly difficult and staying motivated is extremely hard.

Each to their own, there’s no right or wrong here but at some point, anyone can become demotivated during lockdown so even if you’re loving it right now, it’s best to be well-equipped with some tips if things do turn.

Having a Morning Ritual

Morning rituals are a great strategy to get your day started on the right foot. Even though you’re in your own home, you can fly out of the blocks and start the day with some zest and energy.

Morning routines should have 3 key elements:

  • Breakfast
  • Shower
  • Exercise

Which order you put them in is down to you. Research suggests that a bit of exercise before eating breakfast is very healthy. It can boost fitness, and weight loss and enhance concentration. Wake up and try and do some stretches, star jumps, sit-ups and jogging on the spot – you might be surprised about how good you feel after.

You can then shower or eat breakfast in whatever order you like. Building a powerful morning routine can change your entire day. Use apps like Streaks to track your progress and set reminders to help keep you in check. Lockdown is also a great opportunity to clamp down on bad habits and Streaks is awesome there too.

Structure your Hours

Our daily structures have changed hugely. It’s your time to build a routine that works for you. To some extent, your routine might be set by what work you have to do, whether you’re attending e-lessons, lectures and seminars or have to do your own work in your own time. If it’s the latter, it’s best to draw up a plan that will guide you through the tasks for the day.

Try writing a list with the following:

  • 1 max priority task that you’ll be satisfied by doing
  • 2 smaller tasks that you need to do but are secondary to your main task
  • 1 task that you want to keep in mind but don’t necessarily have time to do now

This will help keep you focussed on main objectives without letting side projects fall to the back of your memory.

Make an Office

Lack of study space can be a big issue. We build positive associations to work when we’re in an office space that we find comfortable and productive. A poor workspace, or none at all, will leave you feeling lethargic and distracted. Keep your workspace clear with no distractions. Your phone might be a tricky candidate here, and the fact your PC or laptop is a gateway to all manner of distractions. It’s a test of willpower.

Find a zen state where you don’t need to flick through social media every 5 minutes by closing apps and turning your phone off whilst limiting your browser to just essential windows. The longer you go without being distracted the more you can feel good about yourself.

Take Breaks from Screen Time

We rely on screens more in lockdown than ever (as if that was possible!) Nevertheless, you need to get into the habit of looking away for a few minutes every 30 minutes or so if possible. You can couple this with a walk around the house, garden or other more intense forms of exercise. And that doesn’t mean walking around the house with a phone!

Taking breaks from screens takes the strain off your eyes and gives them a well-earned break from blue light created by LEDs which has been shown to negatively impact our sleep.

Stay Social (Whilst Distancing)

You can still stay social with friends by chatting regularly, calling, and using video chat. You might have done this regularly at the start of the lockdown but are getting out of the habit now. It’s time to renew the habit! We still don’t know how long this will last or whether it will happen again so it’s best to get into the practice of regular contact rather than assuming you’ll see everyone soon.

Head straight into our next post so you don’t miss out on more helpful articles like Distance Learning: Has your Course Migrated Online?

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