Advice from Sally: Navigating the online spring semester

Serah Culler, Contributing Writer

This past fall semester, one of my professors started off the first class with this advice: “Look at this semester as an opportunity. I know that it looks very different from what you were probably planning, but you are beginning your college journey in a way that is completely unique and that may never happen again. So, look at this time as a gift, not as a burden.”

Our fall and now spring semesters certainly look different from what I believe many of us had planned. I know mine is! All of my classes are online, and the majority of them are being taught over Zoom. But even though this is a difficult situation, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to have fun and thrive in your spring classes. Here are some ideas to help you get started!

  • Make a plan

With many of our classes being online, it can be easy to fall behind and lose track of  time on homework and assignments. Having a plan can help! By using resources like a bullet journal or planner, it helps to figure out what has been accomplished  and what still needs to be done. You can use a fill-in-the-blank planner with dates and sections already designed, or you can take a more DIY approach. Just by keeping a notebook with due dates and what is left to be done in a project can do a lot to help lower stress and not fall behind.

  • Talk to your professors

I had an assignment last semester I was really nervous about. I had to set up a Zoom call and interview one of my professors about their department and class. He taught one of my asynchronous classes, so I really hadn’t spoken with him before. We ended up chatting for an hour! It was really eye-opening to be able to learn a little of his perspective about the online semester and to find out what he loved about his subject.

I think we sometimes forget that our professors are living, breathing people, especially when our only connection to them is through email or over a Zoom call.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to them! They are here to help and want you to succeed. If you have a question or issue with an assignment, send them an email. Find out if they’re holding office hours over Zoom (check out the class syllabus to see times and days) and check in. You can take a minute just to say “hi” or to go over an assignment. A conversation can make a world of difference for both you and your professor!

  • Reach out

Our professors aren’t the only ones that it can be hard to connect with. Social distancing and online classes can make it difficult to interact with fellow students and make new friends, but there are still ways to interact and get to know each other. Apps like Corq can make it easy to find both online and in-person events to attend, while WaveLink can introduce you to clubs and organizations. Try attending a meeting or reach out and see if a club you are interested in is holding any online activities this semester. If you are in an online class, set up a GroupMe to chat with your classmates about assignments or to form a study group. You can even schedule a Zoom meeting to just hang out and talk!

  • See things as opportunities

Like my professor said last fall, we are living in very unique times. While these times are full of difficulties, they can be full of good things too. Our mindset can really help or hinder how we respond to what life throws at us. By seeing obstacles as opportunities instead of limitations, it can increase our positivity and well-being. For example, class over Zoom is hard, but when have we had the opportunity to bring our dog or cat to statistics or Spanish, or to give our siblings a sneak peek of a college class? The bright side of things are there, we just have to keep an eye out for it!

  • Take a breath and smile

Don’t forget to give yourself a break. Your health is important, so take the time to get away from the screen every now and then. Turn off the computer, take a deep breath and get some fresh air. Eat some veggies and get a good night’s rest. If you are feeling really overwhelmed, reach out to the Campus Counseling Center, or check out the Healthy Hawks programs. You are important, and there’s always someone who is willing to help you out.

I hope this gives you all some ideas on how to succeed in your online classes! We are all in this together, so let’s make this the best semester it can be. Stay classy, Seahawks!