“I have to go; I have a Zoom in ten minutes.” Sounds familiar? College life has taken on a different shape. Some are kicking it; others are in survival mode. How can we not just survive in all these different classes but rock it? Straighten your mask and consider the following:

One size does not fit all

Students received numerous bullet pointed lists with ways to succeed in online, hybrid, or hyflex learning models. Such lists are a great resource. However, they are not necessarily “pandemic proof.” Helpful tips include having a dedicated study space and treating study like a job. Whereas this may work for a lot of students, one size does not fit all. Not every student currently functions optimally by implementing these hacks. Are you the type of student who has a case of “ants in the pants”? Forget the dedicated work space and mix up where you do your work. Keep it fresh. Treating study like work may remind you that college is important but perhaps a more relaxed approach reduces stress. Whatever shoe seems to fit, why not walk in them a bit and get some exercise? 

Be honest with yourself

The Covid-19 learning environment is new and “other.” Adjustments must be expected. Be honest with yourself if you must make some changes. Learning remotely does not take any less time than learning in person. Do not confuse flexibility with ease. Have you taken on too many hours of work? Maybe revisit your schedule for the next semester. Can you get a different job? Work less hours? Perhaps you tell yourself you can view an asynchronous class later and then the same for another class and yet another one? Pretty soon you have a long to-do list of viewing classes. All well intended but overwhelming nevertheless. Perhaps you promised yourself you can have a “class watching marathon”? Great intentions; meager outcome? Time for an honest conversation with yourself: this does not work. Leave asynchronous learning for necessary occasions, not for convenience. Show up for class. You will feel less overwhelmed and ready to slay the remote dragon. 

Male sitting outside, on a rock with a laptop

Be merciful toward yourself

College students must schedule several hours each day for studying and block off large sections of dedicated work time without distractions. That is, when not studying during a pandemic, right? Are you having trouble getting work done? Is it hard to stay focused? Be merciful and gracious toward yourself. Any work done is better than no work done. Normally, a professor might not tell you to sit in front of a television typing an outline. But if that provides sanity? Do it. Sitting outside with your laptop? Do it. Going to a coffee shop while wearing your mask? Go for it. Working at weird times? Try it. Break through the monotony. So you failed turning in something on time last week? Don’t look back. Get your materials in on time this week and celebrate! Set small goals, meet them, and rejoice. Mercy. Grace.

Avoid Zoom doom

Zoom fatigue (or Google Meet or whatever platform you use) is real. Get up on time so you feel energized. Bring a cup of coffee. Try not to lay on a bed. Turn on your camera for a remote class meeting. Smile. The more happy faces you see in return, the better you will feel. Participate in online polls, voting, discussions, or simply anything that shows you have a pulse. You will invigorate the classroom experience and beat the doom of Zoom. You only can stare at a screen for so long. Take a break when you are done. Trouble with the screen? Check your contrast and illumination settings. Consider getting better fonts for an eye-relaxing experience by managing “Adjust ClearType Text.” Your eyeballs will thank you.

Laptop on a table with the words "Join us online" on the screen

Get connected

Life is more fun and enjoyable when shared. When learning remotely, put forth some extra effort in connecting with classmates. Send a note to a student with whom you were in a group exercise and ask if you can review some notes. Propose in-person meetings (outdoors, in a student center, or coffee shop) or remote study sessions. Some students backchannel during Zoom sessions by way of a GroupMe group or a chat. Join positive conversations. Check for campus activities and join. Just give it a try. Get connected spiritually. Seek out places of encouragement, prayer, church groups. Read the Gospels and connect with the Jesus story. Are you feeling blue? Check out on-campus counseling services. 

Speak some positivity into the lives of those around you. You won’t feel as remotely in survival mode in alternate learning settings. Instead, as you step outside of the “one-size-fits-all mode,” are honest with yourself, extend mercy and grace toward yourself, avoid Zoom doom, and seek community you will thrive. You are not merely surviving. Connect with God and you will have hope amidst a pandemic:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13
UMHB is the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest. If you are looking for a place to receive an education for life and an experience of a lifetime, UMHB would be a great fit for you! Check out our website for more information, or stop by any time for a campus visit to learn more!