It’s your first day of university. You’ve picked an outfit, packed your bag, and you’re ready to start this new chapter of your life. You walk down the hallway of your parent’s house to the spare bedroom, sit at the desk in the corner, and turn on your computer.
And so, your semester begins.
Wait, what? No brick buildings, no lecture halls, no hordes of students filling the paths? No crossing the quad or picking up textbooks or studying at the library?
With many university classes opting to go online this fall, your first year may not be what you expected. But there are a few ways you can prepare for a semester online and get involved despite the distance.
Create a Designated Workspace
Having a space dedicated solely to class and study time is key if you’re going to survive your first year of university at home. It can be so tempting to listen to your online classes from your bed or do your assignments at the kitchen table. But having a designated place to work will help you focus.
Why? Because different spaces hold different associations in our brains. Your bed is where you relax and sleep. Your kitchen table is where you eat and connect with family. If you try to make these spaces into your home office, you’ll have to fight against the desire to relax, sleep, eat, or chat.
But when you sit down in a spot that you know is only for classwork, your brain will start to shift into work-mode each time you’re there.
Research Groups You’d Like to Join and Join Virtually
Getting involved while distance-learning can seem like too high a hill to climb. But there are ways to do it! And in your first year especially, you’ll want to put in some extra effort to meet other students.
If you have a current hobby, like playing guitar, look to see if your school has a guitar club. If you want to try something new, research what clubs are offered at your school and pick something that sounds interesting to you. Sure, ultimate frisbee club may be more challenging at the start, but you can still connect with members in the group.
You may discover a new love for reading by joining a book club or an interest in painting by joining a painting club. There are a lot of activities you can take part in virtually as you make new friends.
If you’re looking for a campus fellowship to join, you can connect with an InterVarsity group here.
Give Yourself Time to Adjust
This year has brought with it a lot of changes and uncertainties. And knowing how to deal with uncertainty takes time. Under normal circumstances, starting university requires an overwhelming amount of adapting; but this year? It requires that and then some.
So, give yourself time to adjust. You may find it hard to focus or really engage at the start or as the semester goes on. Keep leaning in.
Use your school or program department’s advisors if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Get to know students in your class, but don’t feel pressured to know everyone.
Just because you’re learning from a distance, doesn’t mean you’re learning on your own.
Soak in the Experience
Despite what your fall semester looks like this year, it’s still your first term of university! That’s an exciting milestone that should be enjoyed.
Find time to reflect on where you’re at and how hard you worked to get there. Write down your goals for the year and read them whenever you need some inspiration.